My Days with Gandhi
|Nirmal Kumar Bose
|Orient Longman Pvt. Ltd.
|8.3" X 5.3"
This book deals with the last phase of Gandhi's life. In many respects this period stands out as a critical and dramatic period in Gandhi's eventful life.
The author who was Gandhi's secretary and companion during these last years drew on his close relationship with and observation of Gandhi, and on a wealth of documentary evidence to show how Gandhi dealt with the crises he experienced both at the personal and at the public political level.
This honest, searching study, when first written and published raised considerable controversy. It remains, even today, important for the light it throws on aspects of Gandhi's personality and attitudes - notably his views on the Cabinet Mission proposals, the partition of India and his concept of a democratic organization.
Nirmal Kumar Bose was one of India's foremost anthropologists, and was Director of the Anthropological Survey of India. Along with his formidable reputation as a scholar he is also remembered as a teacher, administrator and social worker, and as one who was firmly committed to the Gandhian path. During the critical years just before and during partition he was Gandhi's Secretary.
Many years ago, I planned to write four books on Gandhi. The first was to be a book of collections from his English writings which would serve as an epitome of his thoughts on various subjects; the second was to give an outline of his economic and political ideas, while tracing their evolution; the third, on his personality and on the actual manner of his execution of ideas into practice, and the fourth, a critical account of the various satyagraha movements which have occurred, from time to time, on the Indian soil.
The first two books have already been published, while the third is now being placed before the public. I do not know if the fourth project will ever materialize, although such a study, undertaken in the manner in which the General Staff of an Army examines critically the effect of new arms or of new tactics on the course of campaigns, seems to me to be most essential for an understanding of the potentialities of satyagraha in which unarmed, common people try to establish their will through non-violence instead of violence. It is necessary to examine how the new technique works in relation to conflicts centering round social, economic or political disabilities; and how also it works under the leadership of a genius like Gandhi or independent of it. Such an undertaking would necessitate extensive travels across the whole of India, and a freedom from haste and from care which can hardly be afforded under the present limitations of my duties in the University.
In any case, even if the contemplated series closes down with the present volume, I do hope, the three books will collectively serve to present a more or less integrated picture of Gandhi as a man and of his ideas.
Many may not perhaps agree with the analysis presented here or on the emphasis laid upon different aspects of Gandhi's life or thoughts, but my humble submission is that I have spared no pains in order to make the study as objective as possible.
The publication of this book has a curious history; and it is with a great deal of hesitation that I have finally decided to relate the story in brief. My manuscript was finished in 1950, two years after Gandhiji's assassination. Then it was submitted to the Navajivan Publishing House for publication. The Managing Trustee referred the book for criticism to the late Shri Kishorilal Mashruwala. In course of a lengthy review, the latter said, 'the publication of this speculative psycho-analysis of Bapu and some of his associates can be justified if it will (provided based on accepted facts) help the cause of the nation or humanity in any way Then the analysis and its publication must contribute something positive to advance his work and influence, or to correct the persons concerned. Otherwise it is an idle speculation, which does not lead anybody anywhere. Bapu cannot be corrected of his errors if any, as he is no longer alive. His associates cannot benefit by the publication. They might resent it. No two men's cases being alike, the world too cannot profit by N. Babu's dissection of Bapu. Of course, it might encourage similar speculative writers to discuss these matters for centuries to come, and fiction writers to produce caricatures of Bapu and his associates.
The managing Trustee in forwarding the above criticism added, 'I am of opinion that you be better advised to leave out of the book Bapu's experiments in sex or Brahmacharya and reconstitute the book to say about Bapu's great work in Noakhali.'
When the Navajivan Publishing House could not thus publish the book in its existing from, I applied for permission to print it on my own account; as I held that an account of Gandhiji's personality could not be left out of the story of the most important phase of his political career. The reply came, 'Your letter of 6th June 1951 asking for permission from the Navajivan to include some of their copyright material in your projected book. The question would have been a simple one, but for the views we hold regarding the use of the material. Holding these views as we do, I find it impossible to allow the publication of that material.'
At about the same time, personal requests were received by me from very high quarters in the country to desist from any public treatment of such a controversial matter, particularly when, as one letter said, 'there are so many people who might be only too eager to exploit for their base personal ends what they care so little to understand.'
I have waited for nearly three years, during which the manuscript was submitted to numerous friends and publishers for their considered opinion. Some expressed the fear that the book may give rise to misunderstanding; while others held that it gave a more or less understandable; while others held that it gave a more or less understandable explanation about some of the views and actions of Gandhiji.
I have thought long and reverently over the whole question, and have ultimately come to the conclusion that the possibility of misunderstanding alone should not deter one from expressing a view, which one believes to be true or near-truth. It is natural that the explanation that I have tried to present does not cover all aspects of Gandhiji's great character. By drawing particular attention to one aspect, it may even that done injustice to the wholeness of that character. But, I believe, a view of the Himalayas from one particular point of view does not lose merit just because it does not show the whole mountain from all possible angles at the same point of time. Perhaps that is never possible. And that has been the reason why I have ventured to print the book on my won responsibility in spite of grave risks of one kind or another. My only strength has been the appreciation and encouragement of friends who have seen nothing wrong in the book and have done their best in helping me to communicate this particular study of Gandhiji to the reading public. To them, my gratefulness goes forth in an abundant measure.
|Preface by the Author
|The First Interview
|At Delang in Orissa
|The Interview At sodpur in 1945
|Congress Workers meeting in Sodpur, January 1946
|Gandhiji's Arrival in Sodpur in October 1946
|Happenings in Bihar
|On the way to Noakhali
|Circumspection and a Call for Courage
|The Daily Round
|Days full of Darkness
|The Darkness Deepens
|A Friend's Parting
|The First Fortnight in Bihar
|Till We meet again
|An Excursion in Psychology
|Dark Clouds over Bengal
|Darker Clouds over India
|On a Visit to Bengal's Capital
|Crisis in Non-Violence
|Bengal Calling Again
|Building up Free India
|Condition of Noakhali in May 1947
|"Congress Position" by M. K. Gandhi
|"Last will and Testament" of Mahatma Gandhi
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