Remembering the Mahatma

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On the Occasion of Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti, a short excerpt from his life story as reported to have happened in Benaras Hindu University and from his Autobiography: The Experiments with Truth.


In the year 1916, when Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya called upon the recently arrived sensation in Indian Politics, MK Gandhi (not ascribed Mahatma yet) for the inaugural function. The Chief Guest of the occasion was Viceroy of Britishers in India, Lord Hardinge and other guests were the Kings and Princes from the Princely States under British rule. All Kings and Princes had come in dresses which portrayed supposed Royalty in eyes of the Indian Masses, but it was an insult to their pride as they were looked as exotic servants to the British Empire, like Khansamas of the Viceroy. Gandhiji was very much saddened about the fact when he came to know the feelings of the Princes.
When he was given the opportunity to speak in the function in front of all the senior leaders in India and the Viceroy, he went up, clad in a short, coarse dhoti, Kathiawadi cloak and turban rose. He started his speech by touching the issue which hurt him the most, the police precautions and the luxury around him in the meeting. He said-

“I wish to tender my humble apology for the long delay that took place before I was able to reach this place. And you will readily accept the apology when I tell you that I am not responsible for the delay nor is any human agency responsible for it. The fact is that I am like an animal on show, and my keepers in their over-kindness always manage to neglect a necessary chapter in this life, and, that is, pure accident. In this case, they did not provide for the series of accidents that happened to us-to me, keepers, and my carriers. Hence this delay.”

It caused the audience to get instantly attracted to his wit and listened intently. Then during the speech, looking at Viceroy Hardinge, in his eyes, said this:

“Now, last but not the least, it is my bounden duty to refer to what agitated our minds during these two or three days. All of us have had many anxious moments while the Viceroy was going through the streets of Banaras. There were detectives stationed in many places. We were horrified. We asked ourselves, “Why this distrust?” Is it not better that even Lord Hardinge should die than live a living death? But a representative of a mighty sovereign may not. He might find it necessary to impose these detectives on us? We may foam, we may fret, we may resent, but let us not forget that India of today in her impatience has produced an army of anarchists. I myself am an anarchist, but of another type. But there is a class of anarchists amongst us, and if I was able to reach this class, I would say to them that their anarchism has no room in India, if India is to a conqueror. It is a sign of fear. If we trust and fear God, we shall have to fear no one, not the Maharajas, not the Viceroys, not the detectives, not even King George.”

This shook the downtrodden mentality of fear that Indian masses had in regards to British Administration. The level of courage Gandhiji showed that Day, so influential that every other leader appreciated and saw a future in the man in process of becoming Mahatma.
The greatest difference that Gandhiji made was by creating a sense of pride in being Bharatiya and not get subdued by the fancies of British Power.
Humble Gratitude to the Bapu on occasion of his 149th birth anniversary.

Be the Change that you want to see in the World.

— Written by Bitthal, Student of Developmental Studies at IIT Madras

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