Mahatma Gandhi's Association With Mani Bhavan
Mumbai and its inhabitants have played a very
prominent part in India's unique struggle for freedom. Gandhiji was rightly
proud of its patriotic and cosmopolitan citizens. Mani Bhavan is one of the few
Important places hallowed by Mahatma Gandhi's close association.
Mani Bhavan, a modest two-storied building on the Laburnum Road in the comparatively quiet locality called Gamdevi, served as Gandhiji's Bombay head-quarters for about seventeen long and eventful years (1917-1934). It belonged to Shri Revashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri, who was Gandhi's friend and a host during that period. It was from Mani Bhavan that Gandhi initiated Civil Disobedience, Satyagraha, Swadeshi, Khadi and Khilafat movements. In 1955 the building was taken over by the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi in order to maintain it as a memorial to Gandhiji, to his frequent stay there and to the very important activities of great significance he initiated from that place.
Mani Bhavan has a story to tell as it housed Gandhiji occasionally during the times when he grew in stature and strength, from a queer type of an agitator to a world figure by successfully introducing satyagraha (individual as well as mass) as a new and effective weapon to fight all evil and injustice.
It is obviously impossible to draw the full picture or tell the whole story here; nor is it the ambition of this booklet to do So. All that this humble attempt seeks to do is to give the reader a few glimpses of the great drama enacted in this small corner of Bombay by Gandhiji and his illustrious colleagues. For those who have at one time or other visited Mani Bhavan during Gandhiji's stay there, this booklet will serve as a precious flash-back. To a biographer and historian, this would indicate the lines along which to go for gathering invaluable material. To the younger generation, it will give an idea of the dynamism of the great Mahatma even While he was shaping himself and the nation, along the uncharted path of non-violent resistance to foreign rule and to all evil.
This is but an humble attempt and it will have served its purpose if it attracts the attention of the readers to hallowed Mani Bhavan, with the room that Gandhiji occupied, with its small picture gallery, the Library Hall and the terrace where he was arrested on January 4, 1932.
Gandhiji was a dynamic person and he kept on evolving. Even a change in his outward dress indicated an inner change. Soon after his return from South Africa, he flung away the European style of dressing and took to the Indian style. Then again his original Kathiawadi turban was replaced by a Kashmiri cap which in its turn was discarded in favour of a white-cap popularly known as the Gandhi cap. The change ultimately culminated in a bare loin cloth- a significant symbol representing the Indian peasantry and its poverty. Perhaps Mani Bhavan is the only place besides the Sabarmati Ashram, where he donned all these dresses in their sequence.
1917 The Wheel
Gandhiji had conceived of the spinning-wheel as the panacea for poverty-stricken India as early as 1908. He wanted to learn spinning and carding during his stay at Mani Bhavan; in 1917 he daily saw a carder pass by the Mani Bhavan. Gandhiji sent for him. He agreed to card cotton for making slivers but demanded exorbitant wages. Gandhiji was willing to pay any price. A spinning class was then opened in Mani Bhavan. Gandhiji was the most ardent pupil of this class. His ardor was not lessened by the fact that he was laid up in bed. As he said, "the wheel hummed merrily" in his room and "had no small share in restoring him to health."
The announcement for awarding a prize for an improved Charkha was also made from here.
At the session of the Co-operative Conference held at Bombay in 1917, Gandhiji contributed a paper on "The Moral Basis of Co-operation": Said he, "... I have ventured to give prominence to the current belief about credit system in order to emphasize the point that the co-operative movement will be a blessing to India only to the extent that it is a moral movement strictly directed by men fired with religious fervor. It follows therefore that co-operation should be confined to men wishing to be morally right, but failing to do so, because of grinding poverty or of the grip of the mahajan. Facility for obtaining loans at fair rates will not make immoral or unmoral men moral.
"Too often do we believe that material prosperity means moral growth. It is necessary that a moment which is fraught with so much good to India should not degenerate into one for merely advancing cheap loans."
Gandhiji interested himself in several nation-building activities and expressed his views with fervor. Swadeshi was a burning passion with him. He constantly wrote and spoke advocating Swadeshi in language, dress and thinking.
He believed in intensive social reform. He wanted women to work shoulder to shoulder with men. Addressing the annual gathering of the Bhagini Samaj in Bombay on February 20, 1918 at Morarjee Gokuldas Hall, Gandhiji said: "Woman is the companion of man gifted with equal mental capacities. She has the right to participate in every minutest detail in the activities of man and she has an equal right of freedom and liberty with him."
An influential and largely attended meeting of Bombay merchants was held on the same day at the Moolji Jetha Market. Gandhiji (who had come to Bombay), explaining to the audience the situation in Kaira district said,".. · People possess the same right as the authorities have and public men have every right to advise the people of their rights. The people that do not fight for their rights are like slaves, and such people do not deserve Home Rule.
"The right of suffering hardships and claiming justice and getting our demands is from one's birth."
On June I0, 1918 a war conference was held in Bombay under the Chairmanship of the Governor, Lord Willingdon. He inflicted on his audience a severe reprimand on Home Rulers whose bona fides he called into question. Lokmanya Tilak was called upon to speak but was not allowed to make a mention of Home Rule and had to stop. Gandhiji presided at a meeting held in Bombay on June 16, 1918 to protest against the Governor's behaviour at the conference. He condemned Lord Willingdon's gratuitous insult to the Home Rulers.
Lokmanya Tilak wrote to Gandhiji an anxious letter regarding his health and requesting him to attend the Congress session. In reply, Gandhiji wrote from Mani Bhavan on August 25, 1918: "I am thankful for your sympathies. It is natural that you are worried about my health. By the grace of God I am now better. But for some days I shall not be able to leave my bed. The pain was severe. Now it has subsided.
"I do not intend to attend the Congress session. Also I do not intend to attend the Moderates' Conference. I know that my views differ from those of both."
Gandhiji got a severe attack of dysentery in 1918. His refusal to take medicines and injections worsened his health. He came to Mani Bhavan from Matheran on December 13, 1918, in this condition. His vow of not drinking milk was coming in the way of his recovery. He had taken the vow in disgust against the cruel method called "phookan" whereby the milking animal is made to yield the last drop of milk in its udder. He explained his reason and his dilemma to his Doctor. Kasturba who was present there intervened saying, "But surely, you cannot have any objection to goat's milk ". The Doctor supported her. Gandhiji yielded.
Gandhiji began taking goat's milk from the first week of January, 1919 as his "intense eagerness to take up the satyagraha fight had created (in him) a strong desire to live ". Soon after he began taking goat's milk he was successfully operated upon here for fissures, on January 21, 1919.
The Black Acts and Satyagraha
The first step that shook the mighty British Empire was taken from here. The Rowlatt Act popularly known as the Black Act was passed in 1919. The unwarranted recommendations of the Rowlatt Committee startled Gandhiji and roused the anger of the whole of India. Gandhiji wrote a letter to Shri Shrinivas Shastri from Mani Bhavan on February 9, 1919: "I have just read your forcible speech on the Rowlatt Bills... and though I have not left my bed, still I feel I can no longer watch the progress of the Bills lying in my bed. To me, the Bills are the aggravated symptoms of the deep-seated disease. They are a striking demonstration of the determination of the Civil Service to retain its grip on our necks.
"I consider the Bills to be an open challenge to us. If we succumb we are done for."
He sent a telegram from here to the Viceroy on February 24, 1919: "Ever since publication of Rowlatt Bills have been considering my position regarding them... In my opinion bad in themselves Bills are but a symptom of a deep-seated disease in ruling class ....
"Those who have been associated with me in public work and other friends met today and after the greatest deliberation have decided to offer Satyagraha and commit civil disobedience of such laws. A committee to be formed from ourselves may decide.
"I am aware of the seriousness of the proposed step. It is however much better that the people say openly what they think in their hearts and without fear of consequence enforce the dictates of their own conscience."
A Satyagraha Sabha was established in Bombay with Gandhiji as its President, and Satyagraha against the Act was launched from here in March, 1919. At the meeting
in Bombay against the Rowlatt Bills on March 14, 1919 Gandhiji's speech, which was in Gujarati, was read out: "I am sorry that owing to my illness I am unable to speak to you myself and have to have my remarks read to you... Satyagraha is not a threat, it is a fact, and even such a mighty Government as the Government of India will have to yield if we are true to our pledge.. · We may not fight hatred by hatred, violence by violence, evil by evil; but we have to make a continuous and persistent effort to return good for evil."
The Satyagraha took the form of signing a pledge to sell prohibited literature like Hind Swaraj and Sarvodaya. Gandhiji drew up a pledge on March 18. "Being conscientiously of opinion that the Bills known as the Indian Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill No. I of 1919, and the Criminal Law (Emergency Powers) Bill No. II of 1019, are unjust, subversive of the principle of liberty and justice, and destructive of the elementary rights of individuals on which the safety of the community as a whole and the state itself is based, we solemnly affirm that in the event of these Bills becoming law and until they are withdrawn we shall refuse civilly to obey these laws and such other laws as a committee to be hereafter appointed may think fit and further affirm that in this struggle we will faithfully follow truth and refrain from violence to life, person or property."
Gandhiji gave a call for country-wide hartal on April 6, to mark the beginning of the satyagraha campaign. On April 3, he sent a message for satyagrahis from Mani Bhavan to S. Kasturiranga Iyengar, Madras: "... I have no shadow of doubt that, by remaining true to the pledge, we shall not only secure the withdrawal of the Rowlatt Legislation, but we shall kill the spirit of terrorism lying behind." Gandhiji sent a letter to the Press from here on April 4, on Delhi incident ".· · The Delhi In pursuance of the scheme of non- co-operation in connection with this movement, he communicated his decision to return the Kaiser-i-Hind and the Boer War medals to the Viceroy. On August I, 1920 in a letter from here he wrote, " It is not without a pang that I return the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal...
"I cannot wear this with easy conscience so long as my Mussalman countrymen have to labour under the wrong done to their religious sentiment. . ."
"The shameful ignorance of the Punjab events and callous disregard of the feelings of the Indians betrayed by the House of Lords have filled me with the greatest misgivings regarding the future of the Empire, have estranged me completely from the present Government and have disabled me from rendering as I have hitherto rendered my loyal co-operation."
Lokmanya Tilak passed away on August I, 1920. The nation was plunged into grief. "My strongest bulwark is gone", said Gandhiji. In Young India he wrote from Mani Bhavan, " Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak is no more. It is difficult to believe of him as dead. He was so much part of the people. . .' A giant among men has fallen. The voice of the lion is hushed.
". . . His patriotism was a passion with him. He knew no religion but love of his country. He was a born democrat. .. No man preached the gospel of Swaraj with the consistency and the insistence of Lokmanya."1921
It was decided to collect one crore of rupees for the Tilak Swaraj Fund and its start was made at Mani Bhavan.
Gandhiji was determined to build the sinews of war through the Tilak Swaraj Fund. So, he observed, " Welcome as the thousands of the moneyed men must be to us, we must rely upon the pice of the masses. Every pice knowingly given will be a token of the determination of the giver to establish Swaraj."
July, August and September, 1921, were to be devoted to concentrate people's attention on attaining complete boycott of foreign cloth. On July 31, 1921 Gandhiji ceremoniously celebrated the bonfire of foreign cloth in Bombay. This struck the imagination of the people as nothing else could have. Many men and women spontaneously responded to Gandhiji's call for boycott of foreign cloth by burning their choicest silk and finest foreign clothes. This marked the entry of women into politics and public life. On August 1, 1921 he addressed a huge meeting at Chowpati in which he said, "Bombay the beautiful lit yesterday a fire which must remain ever alive. . ." The bonfire lit in Bombay by Gandhiji spread all over the land.
Gandhiji came to Bombay after two months tour on October 2, 1921 (his birthday). This was his first visit to Mani Bhavan, in loin-cloth. When it became known that Gandhiji had returned, people began to flock to have a sight of him in his new dress. Next day was Monday, his day of silence. Principal Dhruva of Benaras Hindu University called on him. Gandhiji wrote down his questions and answers. The talk was about the possible fate of Benaras Hindu University, which was then being boycotted by the students in increasing numbers. Principal Dhruva was pressing Gandhiji to devise a scheme of national education.
Throughout the day he was busy writing for Young India and Navajivan. At 9 p.m. he abruptly left his room, and went up alone to the terrace. He returned some fifteen minutes later, and straightway began drafting a manifesto with all speed. " Make as many copies as possible in large hand, keeping double space, on foolscap paper, if we have any," he told one of his associates.
Leaders from different provinces had assembled at Bombay on October 4, in response to Gandhiji's invitation. Gandhiji had made up his mind to publish a manifesto over the signatures of all these leaders. In the draft manifesto it was stated that it was the inherent right of every Indian to express his opinion with full freedom about the propriety or otherwise of citizens offering their services to, or continuing to remain in the employ of the Government, whether in the civil or the military department. Many of the leaders came for consultation with Gandhiji, to some of whom he gave copies of his draft manifesto.
On October 4, the meeting of leaders approved the manifesto. "... It is contrary to national dignity for any Indian to serve as a civilian, and more especially as a soldier under a system of Government, which has brought India's economic, moral and political degradation. .." It was signed by fifty leaders including Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Ajmal Khan, Motilal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Lajpatrai, Vithalbhai Patel, Vallabhbhai Patel, Abbas Tyabji, Jawaharlal Nehru, M. S. Aney, Umar Sobani, Dr. Ansari, C. Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad and others. The manifesto was repeated by hundreds of persons from countless platforms.
After the day's work on October 4, Gandhiji looked very tired and instantly laid himself down on his bed. After some rest he dictated resolutions which he proposed to bring before the Congress Working Committee. The reference to the spinning wheel, the handloom and Khadder had been deleted from the Leaders' Manifesto; but in the Working Committee resolution he inserted it. Further it was stated that the Khadder propaganda had fallen far short of the Committee's expectation, and that an All-India campaign of civil disobedience was not possible so long as the boycott of foreign cloth had not been completed. Another resolution stated that there should be a general voluntary hartals throughout India on the day of the landing of the Prince of Wales in India.
In view of the rumours of his arrest that very night, Gandhiji was advised to tell the people the manner in which the work of the movement was to proceed during his absence. Accordingly, Gandhiji dictated a message, " In the event of my arrest," which was published in the Bombay Chronicle.
On October 5, 1921 the Congress Working Committee met at Mani Bhavan and all the proposals of Gandhiji were accepted. After this, the leaders returned to their respective provinces and Gandhiji went to the Sabarmati Ashram.
Gandhiji reached Bombay on the morning of October 19. Shortly after he reached Mani Bhavan, Mr. Jinnah came in for an interview with him. He had fixed up the hour by a wire. The interview was long and private.
On the night of October 19, Gandhiji lay down in his bed here and began reading Poet Tagore's article" The call of Truth," which had appeared in the October 1921 issue of the Modern Review of Calcutta.
Reply to Tagore
Tagore saw the danger of psychological despotism in the campaign. He decided that he " should steer his work against the current." Tagore's noble words, some of the most beautiful ever addressed to a nation, evoked a firm reply from Gandhiji. Next day was spent by him in writing an article under the caption" The Great Sentinel", in reply to the poet. " The bard of Shantiniketan has contributed to the Modern Review a brilliant essay on the present movement. It is a series of word pictures which he alone can paint.
" To a people famishing and idle, the only acceptable form in which God can dare appear is work and promise of food as wages. God created man to work for his food, and said that those who ate without work were thieves. Eighty per cent of India are compulsorily thieves half the year. Is it any wonder if India has become one vast prison? Hunger is the argument that is driving India to the spinning wheel. The call of the spinning wheel is the noblest of all. Because it is the call of love. And love is Swaraj. . .
" It was our love of foreign cloth that ousted the wheel from its position of dignity. Therefore, I consider it a sin to wear foreign cloth. I must confess that I do not draw a sharp or any distinction between economics and ethics. Economics that hurt the moral well-being of an individual or a nation are immoral and therefore sinful. . .
" True to his poetical instinct the poet lives for the morrow and would have us do likewise. He presents to our admiring gaze the beautiful picture of the birds early in the morning singing hymns of praise as they soar into the sky. These birds had their day's food and soared with rested wings in whose veins new blood had flown during the previous night. But I have had the pain of watching the birds who for want of strength could not be coaxed even into a flutter of their wings. The human bird under the Indian sky gets up weaker than when he pretended to retire. For millions it is an eternal vigil or an eternal trance. It is an indescribably painful state which has to be experienced to be realised. I have found it impossible to sooth the suffering patients with a song from Kabir. The hungry millions ask for one poem - the invigorating food. They must earn it themselves. And they can earn only by the sweat of their brow."
The Prince of Wales was to land at Bombay on November 17, 1921 on a visit to India. The Bombay non-co-operators were solicitous that Gandhiji should be present at Bombay on that day. It was decided that he should reach Bombay on the morning of 17th and leave again the same night and proceed to Bardoli.
The Congress Working Committee had definitely proclaimed by a resolution that " on the day of landing of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, there should be a general hartal throughout India; and as to the effective boycott of any public welcome to His Royal Highness during his visit to the different cities in India, the Working Committee leaves the arrangements in the hands of the respective Provincial Congress Committee. "
Gandhiji arrived at Mani Bhavan on the early morning of November 17. In order that the Bombay people might not fall into the Government trap, a mass-meeting under the presidentship of Gandhiji was to be held in the city at the very time when the Prince was to land.
Outbreak of Violence
At 1 p.m. Gandhiji was appraised of a serious outbreak that was in progress, and of disorderly scenes which were being enacted in different parts in the city. Gandhiji left Mani Bhavan in the company of a few associates. Then at about 5 in the afternoon, he had to go out again to stop further rioting. Four policemen had been beaten to death by lathis and two more had sustained severe injuries. They were lying prostrate on the earth on the highway. Gandhiji arrived on the scene. Sprinkling water on the face of the policemen, he remained there for some time nursing them. He arranged to remove them to hospital.
Gandhiji gave expression to his thankfulness to God for having opened his eyes and saved the situation. "The Lord has saved me from a dire calamity. I was most unwilling to come to Bombay; but God wanted me to see the sights that I have seen, and dragged me to Bombay. If today I had stayed at Ahmedabad I might have easily belittled happenings in Bombay and paid little heed to them. But the terrible scenes that have been enacted before my own eyes could not possibly be put aside, and who knows what further disasters would await us if at this moment civil disobedience should be resorted to at Bardoli."
A Deep Stain
On November 18, Gandhiji was busy writing an article" A Deep Stain" at Mani Bhavan for Young India. He wrote: "I am writing this in the midst of six Hindus and Mussalman workers who have just come in with broken heads and bleeding. . . I confess my inability to conduct a campaign of civil disobedience to a successful issue unless a completely non-violent spirit is generated among the people.
" I am sorry for the conclusion. It is a humiliating 'confession of my incapacity; but I know that I shall appear more pleasing to my Maker by being what I am, instead of appearing to be what I am not. If I can have nothing to do with the organised violence of the Government, I can have less to do with the unorganised violence of the people. I would prefer to be crushed between the two."
Letters had begun to pour in at Mani Bhavan, from all quarters, letters full of harrowing details and cries of distress, letters also full of the foulest abuse and invoking curses on his devoted head. Gandhiji would read out these letters to all who were constantly by his side. Already, finding that the riots were not going to end soon, he had ceased taking any food; while in his article he had also announced that he must undergo a fast for twenty-four hours every Monday. The whole of the day was passed under the strain of incessant toil and agonising thoughts, till at last towards evening he felt exhausted and laid himself down to rest. He went to bed at 10-30 p.m. He was extremely weak and tired. He suddenly woke at half-past three in the morning of November 19, and began writing" Men and Women of Bombay, it is not possible to describe to you the agony I have suffered during the past two days. The Swaraj that I have witnessed during the last two days has stunk in my nostrils. I am writing this note at 3-30 a.m. in perfect peace. After two hours' prayer and meditation, I have found it . . . I must refuse to eat or drink any thing but water. . ."
Gandhiji made moral issue of the riots, and started his fast on November 19, 1921 at Mani Bhavan to restore peace in the city of Bombay.
The fast was on but he had not a moment's rest. "I am feeling all the better for fasting. I have been enjoying a spell of unbroken peace." Through the columns of the Young India and Navjivan he issued passionate appeals to" Bombay Citizens", "Mavalis of Bombay", etc. persuading them to leave the path of violence. His appeal was responded to and quiet was soon restored in the trouble-torn city.
Normal conditions having been restored on Monday, the leaders of all different communities in the city. now approached Gandhiji with a most pressing request that. he should break his fast. Gandhiji, however, on his part, laid down one condition. He would agree to break his fast only on the collective assurance of the leaders assembled, that they would hold themselves responsible for the preservation of peace in the city.
On November 22, the fifth day of his fast, at 8-30 in the morning was held a breakfast meeting. Co-operators and Non-co-operators, Hindus, Mussalmans, Christians and Parsis - all attended. The representatives of the different communities stood up one after another, to express their joy and gratification at the end of their anxieties and fears, now that peace had been actually restored. At the conclusion, Gandhiji read out his address, " It delights my heart to see Hindus, Mussalmans, Parsis and Christians met together in this little assembly. I hope that our frugal fruit-repast of this morning will be a sign of our permanent friendship.
"I am breaking my fast upon the strength of your assurance.
"I am too human not to be touched by the sorrows of others, and when I find no remedy for alleviating them, my human nature so agitates me that I pine to embrace death like a long-lost, dear friend.
"The value of this assembly, in my opinion, consists in the fact that, worshippers of the same one God, we are enabled to partake of this harmless repast together, in spite of our differences of opinion. We have not assembled with the object today of reducing differences, - certainly not of surrendering a single principle we may hold dear, - but we have met in order to demonstrate that we can remain true to our principles, and yet also remain free from ill-will towards one another.
"May God bless our effort."
After this at the earnest solicitation of the whole party, he broke his fast by partaking a few grapes and only one orange.
The Congress Working Committee meeting was held at Mani Bhavan on November 23. The Bardoli no tax campaign was postponed. The Working Committee asked all the Congress Committees to organise volunteers' corps, every member of which had to take the pledge of non-violence" in word and in deed" and also to inculcate the spirit of non-violence amongst others.
Malaviyaji and Jinnah convened an All-Parties' Conference in Bombay on January 14,1922. Gandhiji attended as the sole spokesman on behalf of the Congress. The Congress Working Committee meeting was held at Mani Bhavan on January 17, 1922. It postponed the starting of any campaign for a while: "The Working Committee resolves that the offensive civil disobedience contemplated by the Ahmedabad Congress be not started till the 31st of January or pending the results of the negotiations undertaken by the Committee of the Malaviya Conference for a Round Table conference whichever may be the first date."
Gandhiji was arrested on March 10, 1922. He faced his great trial and was sentenced to six years' imprisonment for seditious writing. He was released in February 1924 for reasons of health.
The special branch of C. I. D. kept all records of Gandhiji's movements from the day he landed in India in 1915. Here is an extract from his" secret history file" dated August 29, 1924. "M. K. Gandhi accompanied by his son Devdas and his secretary arrived in Bombay at the Grant Road Railway Station on the morning of today. Very heavy rain was falling at the time and there were only about fifty persons headed by Mrs. Sarojini Naidu. From the station the guests motored to Laburnum Road to the bungalow of Revashankar Jagjivan a Gujarati jeweler with whom Gandhiji is staying while in Bombay.
"The same evening the Corporation address to M. K. Gandhi was presented at Sir Cowasji Jehangir Hall. Next day (August 30) Gandhiji visited the national school at Princess Street and spoke on Khaddar and the spinning-wheel. From there he went at 4 p.m. to a ladies' meeting in the Marwadi Vidyalaya Hall under the Rashtriya Sabha. About five hundred ladies attended."
The Municipal Corporation of the City of Bombay under the Presidentship of Vithalbhai Patel, presented an address to Gandhiji at the C. J. Hall on August 29, 1924. "... on the occasion of your recovery from serious illness and your restoration to freedom, our felicitations and our best wishes for your health and happiness. . .
"We hope that you will long be spared to guide the destinies of the millions who look up to your leadership and that it may fall to your lot to help to usher in a new era in which all the races inhabiting the country may live and work together in a spirit of harmony and mutual confidence. A great future awaits this ancient land. . ."
Gandhiji addressed a meeting at the Excelsior Theatre, Bombay on August 31.
Mohamed Ali as President of the Congress, convened a conference in Bombay on November 21, 1924 to consider all the recommendations made by Gandhiji, Das and Nehru" with a view to unite all parties and induce those who in 1920 felt called upon to retire from the Congress to rejoin it and meet the recrudescence of repression which is evidently aimed at the Swaraj Party of Bengal" Gandhiji attended the conference with hope.
Gandhiji presided over the Belgaum sessions of the Congress in 1924 and came to Bombay from Belgaum. He attended the annual session of the Muslim League held at the Globe Theatre when he addressed the League on December 31, 1924.
In spite of weakness Gandhiji fulfilled engagements, though he spoke little. On the way to Kanpur to attend the Congress session in December 1925, he said in Bombay, " I have given my message. You cannot have a new or fresh message from me. Carry out that message and let me know the results."
Gandhiji reached Bombay on March 23, 1927, to commence his tour of Karnatak. He overworked himself, giving speeches till midnight. He came back to Mani Bhavan from the meeting at one in the morning. The next morning he had his four o'clock prayer at five because it was physically impossible for him to get up earlier. There was a stream of visitors all the time. On his way to the station there were patients to be seen, and the students to be spoken to.
1929 Congress in Every Village
In view of the campaign of repression all over the country the A.I.C.C. met in Bombay on May 24, 1929 to consider Gandhiji's plan for resistance. The substance of his resolution was that before the end of August next there should be on the Congress register at least seven and a half lakhs of men and women. "If it is honestly worked, we should have, as in 1921, an actively working organisation. The test of a perfect Congress organisation is simple: the Congress must be represented in every village and every member must know what the Congress means and must respond to the demands made upon him by the Congress."
Gandhiji arrived at Mani Bhavan from Ahmedabad on the morning of August II, 1929. The mission that brought him here was to conciliate Muslim opinion with regard to the Nehru report and to open fresh negotiations with Mr. M. A. Jinnah with a view to make the Nehru constitution acceptable to the Mussalmans.
Ali Brothers were closeted with Gandhiji for over an hour at Mani Bhavan in the evening. Gandhiji discussed with them the reasons that had led them to rebel against the Congress and Nehru Report, and find out whether they were agreeable to a reasonable compromise.
Gandhiji told the press representative before he left for Ahmedabad the same night. " It was a friendly talk. I would ask you not to infer anything from it."
While in Bombay Gandhiji laid the foundation-stone of the Bhagini Seva Mandir, Vile Parle, on September 7, 1929.
1930 Purna Swaraj
Gandhiji gave a call to the country to observe January 26, as the Independence Day and to take a solemn pledge to win independence through self-sacrifice and self-suffering in 1930. The text of the declaration to be made on January, 26, was:
"We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people, to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have the necessities of life so that they may have full opportunities of growth. We believe also that if any government deprives a people of these rights and oppresses them, the people have a further right to alter it or to abolish it. The British Government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. We believe therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Puma Swaraj or Complete Independence."
". . . We hold it to be a crime against man and God to submit any longer to a rule that has caused this fourfold disaster to our country. We recognise, however, that the most effective way to gaining our freedom is not through violence. We will, therefore, prepare ourselves by withdrawing, so far as we can, all voluntary association from the British Government, and will prepare for civil disobedience including non-payment of taxes. We are convinced that if we can but withdraw our voluntary help and stop payment of taxes without doing violence, even under provocation, the end of this inhuman rule is assured. We, therefore, hereby solemnly resolve to carry out the Congress instructions issued from time to time for the purpose of establishing Purna Swaraj."
The famous Dandi March of Gandhiji was the prelude to a countrywide mass civil disobedience which stirred India to its depths and made a profound impression on world opinion. The pressure of circumstances obliged Lord Irwin, the Viceroy to release Gandhiji and members of the Working Committee on January 25, 1931. Speaking to the Journalists at Mani Bhavan Gandhiji further clarified his position: "I personally feel that the mere release of members of the Working Committee makes a difficult situation, infinitely more difficult, and makes any action on the part of the members almost, if not altogether, impossible. The authorities have evidently not perceived that the movement has so much affected the mass mind that leaders, however prominent, will be utterly unable to dictate to them a particular course of action." He then went on to insist on the right of picketing and manufacture of salt.
1931 Gandhi-Irwin Pact
January 26, 1931 the first anniversary of Independence Day, was celebrated with great gusto. Release of Gandhiji added to the enthusiasm of the people. The momentous day was observed all over the country by holding mass meetings which confirmed the resolution of independence, and passed an identical resolution called the Resolution of Remembrance.
Gandhiji celebrated Independence Day at Mani Bhavan and hurried to Allahabad to meet Motilal Nehru, who was taken seriously ill.
Negotiations with the Viceroy commenced. They culminated in the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. In the third week of March, Gandhiji was in Bombay conferring with his colleagues at Mani Bhavan. The two days' crowded programme kept him incessantly busy and even on Monday, the day of silence, he could get no rest or sleep, having to listen to numerous interviewers. On that day he broke his silence at eight in the evening, and an important interview with Subhas Chandra Bose kept him busy until half past two the next morning. After about an hour's sleep, he was up again for the morning prayer, having thus kept awake twenty-three out of twenty-four hours of that day. Interviews began again soon after the prayer and the whole day was fully occupied with interviews and public meetings. The reception that the citizens of Bombay gave to Gandhiji was magnificent.
Appeal to Communists
Addressing a labour meeting in Bombay in March which was disturbed by some young Communists Gandhiji said in his speech: "I knew that there were Communists in India, but I had not met them outside the Meerut Jail, nor even heard their speeches. I have heard one of them this evening, and may tell them that much as they claim to win Swaraj for the working men, I have my doubts about their ability to do so. I had made the working men's cause my own long before any of the young Communists here were born. . . You must therefore understand why I claim to speak for labour. I expect at least courtesy from you if nothing else. I invite you to come to me and discuss things with me as frankly as you can.
"You claim to be Communists, but you do not seem to live the life of Communists. I may tell you that I am trying my best to live up to the ideal of communism in the best sense of the term. . . But if you want to carry the country with you, you ought to be able to react on it by reasoning with it. You cannot do so by coercion. You may deal destruction to bring the country round to your view. But how many will you destroy?
". . . If the Congress sends its representatives to the Conference, they will press for no Swaraj other than the Swaraj for workers and peasants. . .
". . . God has given you intellect and talent. Turn them to proper account. beseech you not to lay an embargo on your reason. God help you."
On April 18, 1931 Gandhiji came to Bombay to meet and bid farewell to Lord Irwin - the retiring Viceroy. During his short stay in Bombay, he interviewed the Governor in connection with the carrying out of truce terms. A civic address was given to him at the Bombay Municipal Corporation Hall the same evening.
On June 9, the Congress Working Committee met in Mani Bhavan to discuss the general situation in the country. Gandhiji was against proceeding to London unless the Hindu-Muslim question was first solved in India. He felt that if the conference became entangled in the communal issue right at the beginning, the real political and economic issues would not get the proper consideration. The Working Committee decided that if other conditions were favourable, Gandhiji should represent the Congress at the Round Table Conference. Gandhiji accepted the verdict but took the public into confidence. The Working Committee also passed many resolutions some of the important amongst them being on " Congress and Communal Settlement," "The National Flag," "The Labourers" and" Condemnation of Political Murders."
Breach of the Pact
Complaints were pouring in from all over India that the officials were breaking the Delhi Pact. On July 7, the Congress Working Committee met in Mani Bhavan to consider the extraordinary situation that was developing everywhere. On July 9, Gandhiji took the public into confidence, and young India came out with the editorial " Is it crumbling? " :
"Complaints are pouring in from many parts that the local officials are breaking the Delhi Pact to pieces and that it almost looks as if the Government was at war with the Congress. . .
". . . The impatient Congressmen who read this catalogue of complaints may well ask 'then how long are we to wait and bear this?' My answer is the same as last week. 'You must wait as long as the Working Committee thinks it necessary.' Two wrongs will not make one right. . . If it must break, let it break in spite of the whole effort of the Congress to the contrary. The greater our patience - another word for suffering - the greater will be our strength."
A lot of correspondence was exchanged between the Central Government and various governments on the one hand and Gandhiji on the other upon matters arising out of the Delhi settlement. In the second week of August, Gandhiji sent many telegrams from Mani Bhavan. At the time of leaving Bombay for Ahmedabad on August 14, 1931, Gandhiji addressed a letter to the Viceroy from here: "Events have moved so fast that I have not had the time to acknowledge your very kind personal letter of July 31. . . I can only give you my assurance that it was not without the greatest and most anxious deliberation that I come to the conclusion that in view of your decision I could not, consistently with my obligation here, attend the Round Table Conference... The Working Committee arrived at the following decision this morning:
"In view of the resolution relating to the Congress non-participation in the Round Table Conference passed by the Working Committee on August 13, the Committee desires to make it clear that this resolution should not be construed as ending the Delhi Settlement. The Committee therefore advises Congress organisations and all Congressmen to continue to comply until further instructions, with the terms of the Settlement in so far as they are applicable to the Congress."
"From this you will observe that the Working Committee of the Congress has no desire to embarrass the Government at the present juncture and that therefore it is prepared to continue honourably to work the Settlement."
The Working Committee gave a workable definition of Swadeshi goods. "Swadeshi goods, not being cloth or yarn, are those goods which are wholly made in India out of raw material whether indigenous or imported by a manufacturer with not less than 75 per cent Indian-owned share capital, provided that no goods will be considered Swadeshi the manufacture of which is controlled by foreigners. ** The word "controlled" refers to the Boards of Directors and/or Managing Agents.
Gandhiji in his comment wrote: "The definition is open to the objection that it allows raw materials being imported. This latitude was deliberately kept. There is no harm in importing raw material when it cannot be found in India. It is the skill that has vanished from the land or left undeveloped owing to the absence of the Swadeshi spirit. A country remains poor in wealth, both material and intellectual, if it does not develop its handicrafts and its industries and lives a lazy parasitic life by importing all the manufactured articles from outside. There was a time when we manufactured almost all we wanted. The process is now reversed and we are dependent upon the outside world for most manufactured goods. The past year brought forth a remarkable awakening of the Swadeshi spirit. It has therefore become necessary to define Swadeshi goods. But in giving a definition so narrow as to make manufacture all but impossible or so wide as to become farcical and Swadeshi only in name, we do not want to follow the frog-in-the-well policy nor, in seeming to be international, lose our roots. We cannot be international, if we lose our individuality, i.e., nationality."
Sole Representative to R. T. C.
Following the talk between Lord Willingdon and Gandhiji at Simla, a communique, sometimes called the" second settlement" was then published on August 28. It provided that the Congress would be solely represented at the Round Table Conference by Gandhiji. The obstacle being removed, he hurried to
fulfill his obligation. It was at 7 o'clock that the document was signed on August 27. A special train from Simla to Kalka was arranged to enable Gandhiji to reach Bombay in time to catch S.S. Rajputana. Gandhiji wired to a friend from Simla to book five lowest class berths for him.
The Commissioner of Police, Bombay, received a telegram from Simla on August 27, " Gandhi will arrive at Bombay on Saturday morning to catch the mail steamer leaving for England that day he has no passport will you kindly arrange that he has no difficulty in getting one - Home."
As the time was very short, a (special) passport was issued to Gandhiji in twenty-four hours' time. One noteworthy feature of this passport was that a wrong birth-year was entered into it on account of the hurry involved.
Before his departure from Mani Bhavan he wrote: "I must go to London with God as my only guide. He is a jealous Lord. He will allow no one to share His authority. One had, therefore, to appear before Him in all one's weakness, empty- handed and in a spirit of full surrender, and then He enables you to stand before a whole world and protects you from all harm. When I think of the prospects in London, when I know all is not well in India, and that the second settlement is bereft of all grace and is charged with no pleasant memories, there is nothing wanting to fill me with utter despair. The horizon is as black as it possibly could be. There is every chance of my returning empty-handed. That is just the state which realisation of weakness finds one in. But believing as I do, that God has made the way to London clear for me, through the second settlement, I approach the visit with hope, and feel that any result that comes out of it would be good for the nation, if I do not prove faithless to the mandate given to me by the Congress."
He sailed to London from Bombay on August 29, 1931 by S.S. Rajputana.
During Gandhiji's absence the situation in India rapidly deteriorated. Gaffar Khan was arrested on December 24, and Jawaharlal Nehru on December 26, two days before Gandhiji's arrival in India.
Gandhiji returned to Bombay
full of frustration on December 28, 1931. The situation in the country was
grave. Government repression was continuing and the country was groaning under a
series of ordinances as a challenge to the Congress. The same time on receiving this news on the ship he reiterated that he would try every means to avoid another fiery ordeal.
He was received by the people of Bombay with unprecedented enthusiasm. The road leading from Ballard Pier to Mani Bhavan was gaily decorated. People thronged to Ballard Pier and rushed to the streets to welcome him. Rows of Congress volunteers were trying to keep order in the crowds awaiting his arrival throughout the route.
Gandhiji gave an interview to the pressmen in the tent on the terrace of Mani Bhavan some time after he broke the vow of silence at noon (on Monday, December 28), the day of his landing on the Indian shore. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Congress President was present. "My experience of the R.T.C. is that it was a debating society. . .
"I am convinced after my experience that it was the wisest decision to have sent me alone. . . The Congress has not only not suffered but immensely gained.
"I was grieved to learn on board the steamer that in Bengal two of our young girls are said to have committed a murder. It pained me as a Satyagrahi, because our creed is to be ready to die and not to kill. Our fight is based on love."
Gandhiji lost no time and sat with the Congress Working Committee at Mani Bhavan to discuss the situation. Some members held the view that the policy of the Government meant a complete breach between the Congress and the Government, and that further negotiations were useless. Gandhiji advised the Committee to defer their decision till he had a chance of ascertaining the Government's view, of which he wanted to be sure, before renewing the struggle.
In a letter addressed to Jawaharlal Nehru, he wrote" Indu gave me your letter. Somehow or other your arrest did not come upon me as a surprise. I have not yet been able to go to Kamala. I may tonight or tomorrow for certain. You will be glad to know that I have read your second series of letters to Indu. I had some suggestions to make but of that when perhaps we have come to our own. Mean- while love to you and Sherwani."
Gandhiji addressed a mass meeting at 5 o'clock the same evening at Azad Maidan. He condemned the Government's attempt to " unman a whole race."
". . . I would not flinch from sacrificing even a million lives for India's liberty. I told this to the English people in England."
Gandhiji was the guest of honour at a meeting of the:: Welfare of India League held on Monday night (December 28) at the Hotel Majestic. Sir Stanley Reid presided. He explained the situation during his speech which was followed by questions and answers.
In the end, he said, "I appeal to you Englishmen and women to ponder over the facts I have placed before you tonight and do your bit for creating an atmosphere of love and peace in this country."
Last Appeal to Viceroy
Gandhiji sent a cable to Lord Willingdon from Mani Bhavan on December 29: " I was unprepared on landing yesterday to find Frontier and United Provinces Ordinances, shootings in Frontier and arrests of my valued comrades in both, on the top of the Bengal ordinance awaiting me. I do not know whether I am to regard these as an indication that friendly relations between us are closed, or whether you expect me still to see you and receive guidance from you as to the course I am to pursue in advising the Congress. I would esteem a wire in reply."
An address was presented to Gandhiji on behalf of over fifty depressed class associations from all over the Presidency on December 29, on the terrace of Mani Bhavan after the evening prayers. The address was printed on Ahimsak leather (not slaughtered but naturally dead) - a fine goat skin. It read thus :-" You have ceaselessly toiled for the uplift of the " untouchables"; you have made the removal of un touch ability a fundamental national issue; you have, single-handed, fought for our equality. We believe you to be our only representative and our saviour.
"Our desire is to enjoy our rights and to bear the burden of responsibilities shoulder to shoulder with other Hindus in the scheme of Swaraj outlined by you at the Round Table Conference. We are ready to carry out your programme and are anxious to join the national struggle at your call."
Replying to the address, Gandhiji :said: "I hate to call you' untouchables' and I have adopted the name of' Harijans ' for you as we are all the same in the eyes of God.
"I opposed Dr. Ambedkar at the Conference. I did so only on account of my deep sense of injury at the manner in which the other class of Hindus have been calling you and keeping you. I am more than ever certain that reservations and special representations for you would only perpetuate this gulf between you and the caste Hindus.
"I am conscious of the great harm the Hindu society has done by keeping you out. Adult suffrage and joint electorates would facilitate social life between you and the caste Hindus, and the day will not be far away when all these distinctions would cease to exist."
Call for Civil Disobedience
Gandhiji gave a detailed account of his work in England and Europe to the members of the Congress Working Committee on January 30, and listened to the representatives from Bengal and V.P. The Working Committee demanded an impartial and public inquiry into the ordinance question. The Committee passed a resolution that Prime Minister's declarations were unsatisfactory and wholly inadequate in terms of the Congress demands. In the event of a satisfactory response not coming from the Government, the Working Committee, at midnight on December 31, 1931, called upon the nation to resume civil disobedience movement. It appealed to the free people of the world" to watch the struggle in the belief that the non- violent method adopted by the Congress gives it a world-wide importance, and if the method becomes demonstrably successful, it is likely to furnish an effective moral equivalent to war".
Gandhiji visited ailing friends.
The following further resolutions were adopted by the Working Committee which met at Mani Bhavan on January 1: " Appeal to the Free Nations of the World," "Non-payment of indirect taxes," "Reassurance to Zamindars," " Appeal to other Parties and Organisations," " Appeal to foreign-cloth Merchants" and" Indigenous Mills."
When the Viceroy's reply to Gandhiji's telegram of January 1,1932 was handed over to him in the evening of January 2 at Mani Bhavan he smiled and remarked, "Now I am preparing to go to jail." Kasturba and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel were seated around him.
Gandhiji gave the following message to the country through the press: " . . . The nation must now respond to the challenge of the Government. It is to be hoped, however, that whilst the people belonging to all classes and creeds will courageously and in all humility go through the fiery ordeal considering no price too dear and no suffering too great, they will observe strictest non-violence in thought, word and deed, no matter how great the provocation may be . . . Our quarrel is not with men but with measures."
Representatives of about all the important merchants' associations in Bombay came to see Gandhiji at Mani Bhavan and to discuss the future programme and how best they could help the work of the Congress. The prayer gathering went on swelling the terrace of Mani Bhavan.Indian Struggle - more than National
To an American press correspondent Gandhiji gave the following message: "On the eve of embarking on what promises to be a deadly struggle, I would expect the numerous American friends to watch its career and use the influence of the great nation for the sake of oppressed humanity. This Indian struggle is more than national. It has an international value and importance."
Gandhiji sent a telegram to Dr. Sapru and Mr. Jayakar to acquaint them with the situation on January 2. Deputations continued to wait on Gandhiji.
A deputation of the Welfare of India League waited on Gandhiji who thus unbosomed himself before them:
"My telegram was in a studiously courteous language and in the friendliest tone. My friends objected to the word' guidance' but I pleaded with them and got them to agree. You will see that the Viceroy has placed himself completely in the wrong. . . " It grieves me to find the suggestion being made that I was overborne by my extremist colleagues. I am the arch-extremist. I have not found colleagues who have given more loyal allegiance than has been given me during the last four days. There has been no goading on the part of my colleagues, and all resolutions and telegrams have been drafted by me ...
"The way to follow out your telegrams is not to send me to the Viceroy but to see the Viceroy yourselves. All you have to tell him is that when you are about to embark on a big constitutional advance it should be absurd for the head of a state to refuse to see a public man."
Gandhiji was discussing things until about midnight. The Associated Press conveyed by telephone contents of the Viceroy's reply to Gandhiji's reply. Gandhiji remarked how the Viceroy had heaped error upon error instead of availing himself of the locus pamitentiae that Gandhiji had offered him, and expressed his amazement that the Viceroy had introduced an argument which was not to his repeated request for an interview. He expressed the hollowness of the Viceroy's excuse and called upon the nation to respond to the challenge.Prayer and its Potency
On January 3, at the four o'clock morning prayer Gandhiji delivered a stirring little message to the people which is as much a religious sermon as a call to the country in a unique crisis: " You have been my companion in these prayers for some days, and now that the struggle is resumed again and I may be taken away any moment, I hope you will continue to have your prayers regularly morning and evening. Let it become a daily obligatory ritual for you. Prayer plays a large part in a self- purificatory sacrifice and you will see that it will be a veritable cow of plenty for you and will make your way clear. The more you apply yourselves to it, the more fearlessness you will experience in daily life, for fearlessness is a sign and symbol of self-purification. I do not know a man or a woman who was on the path of self- purification and was still obsessed by fear. Generally there are two kinds of fear in men's minds-fear of death and fear of loss of material possessions. A man of prayer and self-purification will shed the fear of death and embrace death as a boon companion and will regard all earthy possessions as fleeting and of no account. He will see that he has no right to possess wealth when misery and pauperism stalk the land and when there are millions who have to go without meal. No power on earth can subdue a man who has shed these two fears. But for that purpose the prayer should be a thing of the heart and not a thing of outward demonstration. It must take us daily nearer to God, and a prayerful man is sure to have his heart's desire fulfilled, for the simple reason that he will never have an improper desire. Continue this ritual and you will shed lustre not only on your city but on our country. I hope this brief prayer of mine will find a lodgment in your hearts."
Gandhiji had evidently no mind to send any further reply to the Viceroy and he sent a cable to Mr. Horribin of the Commonwealth of India League who had been sending cables for having the, truth about the situation. Gandhiji explained that civil disobedience was no new thing and that the Government excuse was hollow. "The fact is that the Government cannot tolerate rising power of the Congress and consequent rise of the people's spirit."
Later, on the morning of January 3, 1932 Gandhiji sent one more telegram to the Viceroy offering another locus poenitentiae. "... I wish to assure the Government that every endeavour will be made on the part of the Congress to carry on the campaign without malice and in a strictly non-violent manner."
Leading Liberals and leading merchants continued to come. They entreated Sardar Vallabhbhai to
persuade Gandhiji to postpone his departure. They were all in communication with the Viceroy and desired that if the Viceroy permitted a deputation of them to wait on him, Gandhiji should be at their disposal for consultations. The Sardar agreed and Gandhiji postponed his departure.
The day was spent in giving these friends long, patient, eleventh hour interviews, in giving messages to various organisations and in drafting a comprehensive resolution for the Indian Merchants Chamber of Commerce, the members of which had stood solidly by him during these days of trial. A message was also given to the Indian Christian followers of the Prince of Peace-through a representative who insisted that his word must reach the community before he was imprisoned. But while he was forging these links of love, Government were busy forging their infernal chains for one whom no chains but those of love could bind.
Sensing danger, the Government of India was making elaborate arrangements and sending secret instructions to the Bombay Government for Gandhiji's " imminent arrest". A telegram from Bombay special to Home, New Delhi was sent on January 2, 1932 : "... Bombay Government consider it important to arrest Gandhi as soon as possible. .. He is said to be leaving Bombay on Monday night and his arrest en route is considered by far the easiest method of avoiding publicity and excitement. .. Bombay Government therefore wish to be allowed discretion to arrest at first favourable opportunity."
On January 3, the Bombay Government received reply from Home, New Delhi: "The Government of India give full discretion in the matter to the Bombay Government, and have informed local Government that arrest may be imminent."
A warrant of Gandhiji's arrest was prepared on January 3, 1932: "Whereas the Governor in Council, for good and sufficient reasons, has, under the powers vested hi him by Bombay Regulation xxv of 1827 resolved that Mr. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi shall be placed under restraint in the Yervada Central Prison during the pleasure of Government."
Gandhiji described his plan of action in an interview to the Press on January 3, 1932 at Mani Bhavan that he would commend to the nation when he is arrested. "What I would ask the nation to do after my arrest is to wake up from its sleep."
Fight against Measures and not Men
On the evening of January 3, 1932, prior to his arrest, Gandhiji wrote several letters. To Gurudev Tagore he wrote: " . . . I want you to give your best to the sacrificial fire that is being lighted." He exhorted the peasants of Kaira and Bardoli to bear the ordeal of the campaign patiently and be true to Sardar's name. His advice to them was" Pray to God to give you the strength of the Satyagrahis." In a similar vein, he asked the workers to maintain unity, to give up liquor, work honestly and contribute their mite to the Swaraj struggle. That his struggle was directed not against the Englishmen but against the British rule is borne out by his note to Father Verrier Elwin, an English admirer who was present at the time of his arrest. He wrote: " I would like you to tell your own countrymen that I love them even as I love my own countrymen. I have never done anything towards them in hatred or malice and God willing, I shall never do anything in that manner in future."
Gandhiji dictated an article" Temple Entry Satyagraha " under very heavy pressure of work and handed over just before his arrest.
One of Gandhiji's acts before he was arrested was to send gifts of best English lever watches to the British detectives who had been detailed to guard him in England and Europe.
Arrest and Prayer on the Terrace
That they had been ready was apparent from lack of date on Mr. Maxwell's letter to the Police Chief. The expected did happen. Gandhiji was arrested in his tent on the terrace of Mani Bhavan in the small hours of the morning of Monday, January 4, 1932, when the nation was sleeping. The arrest was effected by the Police Com- missioner of Bombay. Two police cars pulled up in front of Mani Bhavan exactly at 3 a.m. when those in Mani Bhavan were fast asleep. Gandhiji was also in bed on the terrace where a tent had been pitched for him. When Devadas woke his father and broke the news to him, Gandhiji smiled. It was his day of silence. Some one suggested that he should break his silence as this was an extraordinary occasion.
It was more natural for him to march to and spend his time in Yeravada Prison than stay out. He had familiarised India long ago with Thoreau's dictum that under an unjust Government all self-respecting citizens could not live except in jail. The Commissioner was informed that Gandhiji had kept himself ready for arrest and there would be no delay. Miraben collected his kit and made preparations for the morning prayer.
A portable charkha, a mattress, two handbags, a fruit basket, a pair of sandals and a bottle for milk was Gandhiji's jail kit.
The prayer was held on the terrace. "Vaishnav Jana to Tene Kahiye Peer Parai Jane Re " was sung by all present who touched his feet to bid him farewell and receive his blessings. Gandhiji wrote out farewell messages and instructions to his associates. His message to his own countrymen contained a note to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel which read: " Infinite is God's mercy. Never swerve from truth and non- violence, never turn your back, and sacrifice your lives and all to win Swaraj." He did not know then that Sardar too was arrested.
He emerged out of Mani Bhavan, walked arm in arm with Devadas to the police car, and quietly took his seat. He was cheered by the large crowd which by then had collected outside Mani Bhavan.
From Bombay Gandhiji was taken to Yeravda Prison, Poona, by car and under Regulation xxv of 1827 he was placed under restraint" during the pleasure of Government." Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was also detained along with Gandhiji.
1933 Harijan Work
He was released on May 8, 1933, rearrested on August 4, and sentenced to one year's imprisonment. He commenced fast on August 16, for not being allowed to do Harijan work from the prison. His condition deteriorated. He was therefore, released on August 23, on grounds of health.
Gandhiji decided to devote the remaining period of his sentence to Harijan work. He came to Bombay in connection with this work on September 19, 1933 and spent a busy day at Mani Bhavan. In the morning he had discussion with representatives of the Ahmedabad Millowners' Association and the Labour Union regarding the labour problems in Ahmedabad. After hearing the parties Gandhiji suggested that the dispute should be referred to a Conciliation Board.
Many visitors met him during the day. In the evening a number of women met him. Gandhiji, addressing them exhorted them to do Harijan work. Funds were collected in the evening prayers for Harijan work. He left for Wardha on September 22, 1933.
1934 Mani Bhavan a Source of Inspiration
Gandhiji was busy touring the country in connection with the Harijan and Bihar earthquake campaigns. After the lapse of thirty months, the Congress Working Committee met for the first time at Wardha on June 12, 1934. The adjourned meeting was held in Mani Bhavan on June 17 and 18, 1934. Among those who took a prominent part in discussions were Gandhiji, Azad, Aney and Mrs. Naidu. Malaviyaji and Rajagopalachari attended the meeting by special invitation. The Working Committee laid down a constructive programme. By another resolution it clarified its position regarding the White Paper: " The White Paper in no way expresses the will of the people of India; it has been more or less condemned by almost all the political parties, and falls far short of the Congress goal."
Taking into consideration the social upheaval in the country, the Committee clarified its position: "Whilst the Working Committee welcomes the formation of groups representing the different schools of thought, it is necessary, in view of the loose talks about the confiscation of private property and necessity of class war, to remind the Congressmen that the Karachi resolution as finally settled by the A.I.C.C. at Bombay in August 1931, which always lays down certain principles, neither contemplates confiscation, nor the advocacy of class war. The Working Committee is further of opinion that confiscation and class war are contrary to the Congress creed of non-violence. At the same time the Working Committee is of the opinion that the Congress does contemplate wiser and juster use of private property so as to prevent the exploitation of the landless poor, and also contemplates a healthier relationship between capital and labour."
During his stay here, outside the Working Committee meetings Gandhi gave all his attention to Harijan service. He went round the Harijan quarters all over the city and discussed with Dr. Ambedkar and many others the possible means to tackle the canker of untouchability. In a farewell speech, he stated: "Bombay is beautiful indeed but wherein does its beauty consist-in Malabar Rill or in the Kacharapati at Mahalaxmi? I beseech you to have a look at the plague-spots in Bombay and to move the municipality to deal with them at once. How would you like to live near a sewer even for a single day? "
This was perhaps Gandhiji's last stay in Mani Bhavan.
Thus Mani Bhavan with its many rooms and the historic terrace is a place where Gandhiji lived and conversed with his colleagues, moulded the nation of three hundred million people in the image of his cherished ideals of truth and non-violence and inspired his followers and devotees who went forth from here in the world as changed men and women charged with a sense of service and sacrifice. Mani Bhavan, once the residence of the Father of the Nation, is now a place of pilgrimage for the patriots and a source of inspiration for freedom and peace-loving men and women all over the world.