Why Kasturba Gandhi?

[Gandhji wrote in Harijan, explaining his critics about Kasturba's motive to join Rajkot Satyagraha.]


February 6, 1939

I had not intended to say anything about my wife having joined the Rajkot struggle. But some cruel criticism I have seen about her intervention prompts an explanation. It had never occurred to me that she should join it. For one thing she is too old for such hardships as are involved in being in civil disobedience struggles. But strange as it may appear to critics, they must believe me when I say that though she is illiterate, she is and has been for years absolutely free to do what she likes. When she joined the struggle in South Africa or in India, it was of her own inner prompting. And so it was this time. When she heard of Manibehn's arrest, she could not restrain herself and asked me to let her go. I said she was too weak. She had just then fainted in her bathroom in Delhi and might have died but for Devdas's presence of mind. She said she did not mind. I then referred her to Sardar. He would not hear of it either.

But this time he melted. He had seen my grief over the breach of faith by the Thakore Saheb induced by the Resident. The reader must realize my ancestral connection with Rajkot and the intimate personal relations I had with the present Ruler's father. Kasturba is a daughter of Rajkot. She felt a personal call. She could not sit still whilst the other daughters of Rajkot were suffering for the freedom of the men and women of the State. Rajkot is no doubt an insignificant place on the map of India. But it is not insignificant for me and my wife. As a child she was brought up in Rajkot though born in Porbandar. And, after all, neither she nor I can be unconcerned in a struggle which is based on non-violence and in which so many reliable co-workers are involved.

The success of the struggle in Rajkot will be a stage forward in the fight for freedom. And when it ends in success, as it must sooner or later, I hope that Kasturba's share will count as a humble contribution towards it. Satyagraha is a struggle in which the oldest and the weakest in body may take part, if they have stout hearts.

Harijan, 11-2-1939