Dr Rizwan Kadri Wednesday 09th March 2016 07:28 EST

Part -4

Dr Rizwan Kadri is a young historian known for his research on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Dr Kadri is currently working as an Associate Professor in Shree Swaminarayan Arts College, Ahmedabad. He is also a Ph.D. (History) guide in Gujarat University and Raksha Shakti University. During his academic career Dr Kadri has won many awards such as the ‘Gujarat University Gold Medal’, ‘Sanskar Award’, Jawaharlal Memorial Fund, New Delhi, Meritorious Prize. He is also known for his inspiring lectures, particularly on the Indian Freedom Struggle and Sardar Patel which made him very popular among the scholars as well as common people. In his English translation “The Spirit of Mahatma” Dr Kadri has added a new perspective to the relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and his personal secretary Mahadev Desai, who was like a son to him. Dr Kadri chanced upon this very valuable source of information while going through the file preserved in the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.

Asian Voice has been publishing Dr Kadri's translation in a series.

Thus the corporeal relation that had begun in the year 1916 (1917) came to an end in 1942 that is for 26 (25) years. However, spiritual relations do not end with corporeal relations coming to an end. That relation has continued and will always be there, I am firm in this belief. No relation is accidental, and though we may not know the reasons behind all, why worry? It is futile to have that kind of curiosity anyway. (6-11-1943)

After having said this much about the sudden death, let me resume my memories sequentially. The first memory is of the tour of Champaran. Before Mahadev joined me, I had not formed the habit of travelling with others. I was not at all handicapped. I was able to carry my own luggage. I did not worry about my food at all. If needed, I could cook for myself. But even if I found peanuts and dates that solved my problem of meals. But when Mahadev began to accompany me, he took charge of me. It was his work to look after my luggage and pack it. The burden of writing for me fell on him naturally. He would write many letters that I dictated, or many on his own in keeping with what I had told him. His handwriting was like real pearls.

He soon grasped my language and its style, thus my confidence on the capability & speed of work of Mahadev kept on increasing. (7-11-1943). His willingness and capability of doing all the work were equal. That is why Mahadev became a good writer. He was also a good cook and a good barber. All those who stayed with me became the same. The special characteristic of Mahadev was that he would get immersed in every work, would take deep interest in it and even accomplished it with equal aplomb. He had a lot of magnetic charm. His nature was loving, social and helpful. He would charm everyone he met with his knowledge. He also had a great ability to take up new tasks. The tasks that he was given were mostly new and he had to use his abilities in new ways too to accomplish them.

I understand that Mahadev had not joined me with any political aim. At the time when he joined me, India had no idea about my political strength. I was still an enigma. Mahadev and Narhari were attracted to me due to religious inclination. They believed firmly that there was some miraculous element in Satyagraha. Narhari or Mahadev did not see any place for themselves in the current political scene. What’s more, neither had the yearning for wealth, nor a hankering for personal fame. They had plenty of sense of service to others, and they both felt that this would be best used when they worked with me.

Mahadev was at once burdened with work when we reached Champaran. He quickly came in contact with eminent persons of Bihar, such as Brij Kishore Babu, Rajendra Babu, Kripalani, Dharani Babu, Ramanavmi Prasad, Janak Prasad etc. He mixed easily with them. My main task was to meet big crowds, listen about their troubles and write their stories. It was the responsibility of Mahadev to look after the letters and papers for this project. I used to go to sleep at 11 or 12 pm while Mahadev may have to keep working even later for some time. And everyone had to get up at 4 am for the prayers anyway. It was not an easy task to contain the crowds that came to meet me; no one should ever insult them, but talk to them politely and reason with them to wait for their turn. This could not be done single-handedly. Many had to join in.

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14 / 4 / 1948

Dear Manibhai,

When Shri Jivanji approached me for writing the biography of Mahadevbhai, I was quite surprised. There are already two persons who can write his authentic biography: one is Narharibhai and the other is Pyarelal. Either separately or together only these two gentlemen can write it to give it full justice. However, Narharibhai is now a little handicapped, and he already has the burden of writing Vallabhbhai’s biography, while Pyarelalaji is to write Bapu’s biography when he can spare some time from the work at Noakhali. Besides, I know that Pyarelal will not have any less attraction for Delhi. That is the reason why I gave my consent to this proposition.

Although I have given my consent, I am sure that I would not be able to complete this work without help of others, and it is you who has the responsibility to collect the material.

When I came to know that after Mahadevbhai passed away, Bapuji had decided to write his biography, Shri Vinobaji and myself supplicated him that he should not bother about going to the trouble of writing his entire and detailed biography, for that can be done by anybody else. We told him that he should write whatever were his impressions about Mahadevbhai in 50 or 70 pages and that itself will be an immortal biography of Mahadevbhai. The details around it can be added later on.

Bapuji could not write anything as promised and even before he could fulfil our own limited request he passed away.

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