Please don’t smell politics into it. This is a collection from a face book post from my knowledgeable and well-read friend, Anil Kumar. For me, like many of you, the best form of love in this world,is when a father loves and cares for his son/daughter. Here Gandhi’s son is giving us an idea as to how much love and affection he got from his father, or more appropriately neglected. It has shocked me. If to become the mahatma, his son had to pay such huge price which Gandhi himself had not have to pay, then as a natural human being , Gandhi has miserably failed. NEVER ASPIRE TO BECOME A FALSE MAHATMA, IF YOU HAVE TO BECOME SUCH A FATHER. Please read the following…….
The letter Harilal wrote to his father Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 😂
In the service of Pujya Pitaji,
A worm enters the body of a wasp and flies away having assumed the form of the wasp. I believe something similar happened to me. I have received much from you, I have learnt much, I was formed by you and my character emerged unblemished. The only difference is that I lacked the patience and endurance of a worm and ran away even before I could become a wasp.
I separated from you with your consent. In so doing I followed the dictates of my conscience. This too I learnt from you.
It is usually not possible to distinguish the Phoenix Institution from you. And hence I left that too. We spoke much. You said much; you also did all that you could. I also said all that was possible for me to say. It was destined that we be separated.
When I experienced the desire to write to you at length, the following thoughts came to my mind.
Your life has been a public one. Even your personal life is no secret. All are naturally curious to know more about your life. Many would have asked you questions about the sudden change in me. I have been unable to say all that I wished to say to you.
For such reasons I considered it proper to write this public letter to you.
The thoughts expressed in this letter are my own.
Our differences are not of recent origin. We have had differences for the past ten years. They stem from one subject. You are convinced that you have given me and my brothers necessary education. You are convinced that you could not have given us a better education than what you did. In other words you have given us necessary and sufficient attention. I believe that with your preoccupations and engagements you have unintentionally paid us no attention at all. It affected me and that is what I shall describe in this letter. I believe that due to your overwhelming desire to provide us education and care, you have experienced the illusion of having done so.
For ten years now I have been crying and pleading with you. But, for the wasp, the worm is insignificant. That is, you have never considered my sentiments. I believe that you have always used us as weapons. ‘Us’ in this context means me and my brothers—Manilal, Ramdas and Devdas…
…. If you have no knowledge of our sentiments, then there is no possibility of you paying any heed to what we have to say to you. You have oppressed us in a civilized way…. Thus oppressed I have remained melancholic, anxious and, as a result, sick. You have instilled fear in us, of you, even while we are walking, ambling, eating or drinking, sleeping or sitting, reading or writing, and working. Your heart is like a ‘vajra’. Your love… I have never seen; so what can I say about it…?
…. As your political life became full of hardships you have changed your ideas, and along with that you have also twisted our lives. I believe without any hesitation that our lives hitherto have been irregular and uncertain…. We might be foolish; but allow me to add that you have kept us foolish. You have never considered our rights….
…. Pitaji, you have not paid any attention to us even when we sought it. God grants a newborn child mother’s milk. If the child is given any other food, it has indigestion and falls incurably ill.
It is necessary to narrate my life story in support of what I have said earlier. The period to which I refer is from 1906 to 1911. In the end I ran away from you in 1911. This is the second time that a similar incident has taken place. In 1906, at the age of nineteen, I implored and beseeched you, I made innumerable arguments and pleaded that I should be allowed to chart the course of my life. I wanted to study, to gain knowledge; I had no other desire. I demanded that I should be sent to England. I wept and wandered aimlessly for a year but you paid no heed. You told me that character building should precede everything else….
…. I was told that I should leave Johannesburg and live in Phoenix to build my character. The ‘Indian Opinion’ is published from Phoenix.
Phoenix is regarded as a place for those desiring a simple life. No one can question the objectives of Phoenix… I was asked to build my character in a place like that. But who was I? Was I of any consequence there?
But, the plight of my mother was much worse than mine at Phoenix. I saw that she was being insulted often. What I saw was like witnessing a thief admonishing the sentry. People brought complaints to you… If you had maintained records of all the complaints it would certainly fill a small notebook.
…. It is beyond my capacity to describe the hardships that my mother had to undergo. All this I could not bear. If we ever brought complaints to you, your response would be, ‘He is a good man. He desires your welfare. And such and such is a jolly fellow.’
It was then the idea that you were using us as weapons took root in my mind.
In 1907 the satyagraha commenced. I joined the struggle. I had the opportunity to think freely in jail. When I was out of prison I shared with you my ideas about how and what education we could acquire. But you deprecated my thoughts. I remained oppressed. I considered myself a lost cause. I stopped expressing my views. Finally after pleading with you for five years, in accordance with your teaching I obeyed my conscience and ran away after writing a personal letter to you….
Despite leading an unhappy life in Ahmedabad I do believe that I learnt much, experienced much.
Now you have returned to India. I spent some days with you. My effort to rejoin the Phoenix Institution has failed. My views remain unchanged. You remain steadfast in the choice of your path and consider it to be just. When I complained to you that you did not allow me to go to Lahore and asked me to stay in Ahmedabad, you responded by saying, ‘Why did you not remain firm in your views then?’
Now I am firm in my views and will remain so. If I were to die doing so, I shall die a satisfied man. I know that my conscience is free of sin…. Even after hearing and reading all this you would say only one thing, and that I know: ‘I have always loved my sons to the extent that I have not allowed them to do anything that I have considered wrong.’ Pitaji, the facts given above contain my response to your justification. One more thing remains to be said here. It is so subtle and delicate that it cannot be said fully, nor can it be expressed through words. Nevertheless, I consider it my duty to write about it.
You admonish me that I married ‘against your wishes’. I accept that. Given my circumstances I feel that my action should be pardoned. I believe that no one could have acted differently under those conditions.
You know that I got engaged while I was still a child… Please allow me to state that ever since the marriage, we have remained captive to your wishes. We have been married for nine years. We have spent six of those years apart, pining for each other.
I dissociated myself from the Phoenix Institution because I witnessed hypocrisy there. I consider the objectives of Phoenix to be most superior; but with respect to what I have seen, you are the only one who leads his life according to those objectives… It is often asked, ‘Where are the restrictive impositions in the Phoenix Institution?’ Such a contention is unacceptable to me. Because whatever I did there and saw others do, I felt their conduct was enforced by fear. It was as if everything was based on one principle: ‘Let the groom die, let the bride die, but do as Bapu says.’
And it is a fact, Pitaji, that those who believed so became dear to you and those who did not were despised. This was especially true for us; and among us, it was I who was so despised. …
…..Pitaji, whenever we told you ‘We do not benefit from the Phoenix Institution’ or ‘We have not seen others gaining from the Phoenix Institution’, you told us to follow the example of Murabbibhai and Shri Chaganlal…. We should keep them as our ideals. I have been bewildered whenever you have said so; because, I have neither been able to bear it nor have been able to express what I have observed… Their example teaches us to nurture our self-interest….
Pitaji, I have not been able to say even one-fourth of what I have to say. The letter has become very long. Printing is expensive. From where will I find the money to pay for it?
Before I conclude, Pitaji, if I have unknowingly expressed rash and immature ideas I seek your forgiveness from the depths of my conscience. At the age of twenty-eight I have been forced to write to you like a young child; this pains me, but I had no other choice.
My conscience dictated the letter and I merely wrote it. Whatever I have said about the Phoenix Institution I have said because of my blood relations with it. Therefore, I have pointed out only its shortcomings. The virtues of the Phoenix Institution are known to the world.
My entire letter stresses one point—you have never been generous and patient with our failings. You have never considered our rights and capabilities; you have never seen the person in us. Your life and actions are very harsh. I consider myself unsuitable for a life such as yours. To you a son and others are equal. If there be two accused—one of your sons and someone else—you have considered it unjust to regard the other as guilty. It is justice that a son must suffer, but unfortunately I have not been able to bear such suffering. Moreover, whether it is right or wrong, I am married. God has granted me four children. I am caught in the web of worldly relations, in its delusions and enchantments; I cannot acquire the detachment of an ascetic and renounce the world like others.
Therefore, I had to separate from you with your consent. I feel that I must earn my own livelihood. Even after this I am willing to join the Phoenix Institution at your command. You know that I have not disobeyed you on purpose. It is possible that my views are wrong. I hope that they prove to be wrong—if I realize that they are wrong I shall not hesitate to reform myself. In the deep recesses of my conscience, my only desire is that I be your son—that is, if I am good enough be your son.
Your obedient son Harilal’s Sashtang Dandvat
Chaitra Sud Purnima
31 March 1915 Mumbai