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.

 

 

Vajubhai Shukla and Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

Vajubhai Shukla was a teacher of Rajkot Rashtriya Shala and Jamnadas Gandhi’s Colleague. Mahatma Gandhi knew him very well. He had taken his support in many works. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I send herewith a postcard from Vajubhai. He wants cotton. My feeling is he works in the villages of Bhavnagar State on behalf of Pattani Saheb. And if that is so, why does he not take cotton from the state. Even then, I have written to Balwantrai to have a talk with you. If you think it proper, get him some cotton and lay down whatever conditions you want to. Cotton could be given only as a loan and in return we should either get khadi or money.” 1 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Vajubhai has sent one more letter as a reminder. I shall send it to you, if necessary, after I get your reply.” 2 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Enclosed please find another letter from Vajubhai. As there was nothing new in it, I did not send it to you earlier. There is no question of handing over the school to him. It is you who have to develop it. I have not yet been able to send him your letters.” 3

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “How can we expect satisfactory news about Harilal? I do not know what can be done about Mathew. He can’t be given anything more till he fulfils my conditions. A copy of the letter I have written to Vajubhai and others is enclosed. I succeeded in writing it only today. I was not eager to have serpent put round my neck. I think this particular one was harmless. Jamnalalji knew the man very well. Nevertheless, your caution is right. I should not take interest in such experiments.” 4 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have exchanged letters with Narahari and Vallabhbhai on this subject. Sardar has nothing to say about it. Narahari seems to be satisfied with Narandas’s statement. It has also been sent to Vajubhai and Jethalal and they have been requested to send their replies. I found nothing to criticize in that statement. There seem to be some differences of principle between Vajubhai and Narandas, but they also are not clear to me, except that the latter may have laid greater stress on crafts and expected the teachers to pay attention to them. I wouldn’t regard that as a difference of principle. Have you read Vajubhai’s and Jethalal’s letters? If you are prepared to take interest in the matter and give your time to it, I will send their explanations to you.” 5

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Vajubhai went as he came. He could not satisfy me and I could not satisfy him. I told him that you did everything after consulting me and with my consent and that therefore if he had any differences of opinion with you he should discuss them with me. After this there was nothing for him but to argue with me. Then I learnt that there was a great gulf between his views and mine. Ultimately he left. I gave him the return fare. He had said that in order to get justice he might resort to Satyagraha, that is, undertake a fast. Of course I explained to him the impropriety and the immorality of such a step. Let me know if he does anything or says anything. I am hoping that he will be quiet now and find some other work.” 6

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I regret you have seen fit to object to certain names on the ground of their not being State subjects. But you have a right to do so; if on further consideration you should adhere to the view that Shri Dhebazbhai does not come within the definition, rather than argue with you I am prepared to withdraw his name and to suggest instead the name of Shri Gajanan Joshi Vakil. I maintain that Shri Vajubhai Shukla comes within the definition.” 7 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Sardar thinks that you’re engaging Vajubhai in the work there shows that the latter’s cleverness has succeeded. I too did not like it. He doesn’t seem to me a clean man. Sardar believes that he wants to exploit your name for his gain.” 8 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Just now I heard about your wife’s demise. What can I say by way of consolation? Everyone born has to die. Some die sooner, some later.” 9   

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “How can you afford to be cowardly? You should endure your fate. I can bear, even understand, your refusal to look upon Vajubhai as your husband. But he is a brother to you, is he not? And why need one fear one’s brother? How can you refuse to discuss the subject with him? He has committed no fault. If anyone is at fault, it is you. You do not want to abide by custom. I see no harm even in that. One who wishes to disregard custom must generally display great firmness of mind, purity of character and gentleness. Moreover, you aspire to rise even higher. You are resolved to have as husband no ordinary man but only God. Your stiffness does not become your noble resolve. You should, therefore welcome Vajubhai. Then alone can you uplift both him and yourself. I am glad, that you believe yourself to be still weak. You should, therefore, carefully observe the restraints which a weak person should. These restraints are only not to be alone with Vajubhai and not to touch him. It is no part of a sister’s duty to a brother to touch him freely. If she chances to touch him, she does not run away nor does the experience any passion because of it. But when a girl is weak, even touching one’s blood brother may sometimes have to be avoided. You will learn to look upon God as husband and be accepted in His large court only if you understand all these subtle distinctions. Otherwise you are bound to fall by the wayside like a mere pebble. Go to Vinoba when you can. There you will get affection and knowledge and your determination will grow firm. If you do not want, I will not send you the letters from Father or Vajubhai. But I would like you to remain unperturbed even after reading those letters. Yesterday we had a Bengali bhajan. Daily in the evenings a Bengali bhajan is sung here and that is only proper. The first line of the bhajan was: “Lord, save me from weakness even when I am assailed by doubts.” That is destroying every doubt in my mind. Your vow is a hard one. You have taken it of your own free will. You will not be able to deep it without God’s grace. I am dictating this letter with great care in the early morning in a boat, hoping that it may remove your ignorance and strengthen you. There can be no peace except through absorption in service. You can show this letter to Vinoba. He will be able to explain my ideas better and if there is anything lacking he will make up for it.” 10

 

References:

 

  1.  LETTER TO MAGANLAL GANDHI, December 20, 1926
  2.   LETTER TO NARANDAS GANDHI, July 15, 1935
  3.   LETTER TO NARANDAS GANDHI, August 9, 1935
  4.   LETTER TO NARANDAS GANDHI, August 25, 1935
  5. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL JOSHI, September 2, 1935
  6.   LETTER TO NARANDAS GANDHI, December 12, 1936
  7. LETTER FROM VALLABHBHAI PATEL TO MANEKLAL PATEL, January 15, 1939
  8. LETTER TO NARANDAS GANDHI, January 27, 1940
  9.   LETTER TO VAJUBHAI SHUKLA, October 15, 1945
  10. LETTER TO PUSHPA K. DESAI, December 30, 1945

 

 

 

 

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