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.
This has increased our responsibility in the matter. The sincerity and honesty of Shri Hanumanji and Tulasidas for Lord Ram, with which Mahadevbhai has served Bapuji and through him the country itself, dictates that his biography be presented to the world. For this it is your responsibility to collect the raw material. In this effort, Thakorebhai Desai must also help. I will extend my cooperation, even if it is for a limited time.
Now I shall give you my suggestions for this, as they occur to me at the moment.
Before he joined Bapuji at the time of the Godhra political conference, Mahadevbhai and Narharibhai were close friends. For his college years, we can also refer to 5 to 7 persons like Vaikunthbhai and Brelvibhai. I shall write to them a letter when I come to Ahmedabad. But it will be you who may send reminder letters to them and receive information from them. At the time of Mahadevbhai’s demise these persons had written articles about it in newspapers and we can get some information from these writings as well. However, many other sources also must be tapped.
All this will begin at a proper time. However, your task now is to approach Durgabahen and seek her help to find out the names of persons who have known Mahadevbhai in his childhood. Some of these people may already be in with one-leg-in–the-grave condition. If we do not extract information in time, it would be lost for ever.
You will get great details from your talks with Shri Durgabahen. You may not write details that may not be necessary or presentable to the world. But, for us, nothing is unnecessary. Even a small detail can transform the character of an entire Chapter. Therefore you should write down all the information you get hold of as Chitragupt had done.
Do not carry loose papers when you go to collect information. Write the information in a bound notebook. Later on, in American style, we shall write material in loose papers and then classify it and put them in separate boxes, and classify them, and then prepare the ledgers. As all the information is to be collected from Surat district, so you will get help not only from Durgabahen but also from Babla (Narayan Desai) and Jugatrambhai Dave. As you too hail from the same district, it is our additional advantage. After getting the details from his birth to college at Mumbai, we shall get the first draft written up by Shri Jugatrambhai. His writing is very good and I believe he will also draw the character-outline of Haribhai, the father of Mahadevbhai, very well indeed. I shall add my own tribute to that, as I too have tasted the delight of the talks I shared with Haribhai once or twice.
We must open an office at Sabarmati Ashram for writing of Mahadevbhai’s biography. We must collect all the notes and details of the literature pertaining to it in that office.
Narharibhai has a proper idea about books like ‘VirajVahu’, ‘Mani Varta’, ‘Chitrangada’, ‘Prachin Sahitya’. ‘Satyagraha ni Maryada’ etc. and the activities related to them. We shall request him to contribute a chapter. This can also include the writings of Ghokhale into Gujarati. I think Mahadevbhai had translated into Gujarati the tributes expressed by Gholkhale for the stalwarts. The excellent command that both had over language, seems to compete with each other. Ever since Mahadevbhai came to Bapuji he gave his reading, writing, heart and service to him, and so also to ‘Young India’ and ‘Navjivan’. Therefore, you should collect and read through all the files of Young India and Navjivan since its beginning, down to August 1942. Mark all the writing and weekly letters by Mahadevbhai with a red pencil line. Mark the individuals, events and books referred in them with a thick red line underneath. Write the Marginalia in a black pencil. It would be nice if you can do this work, otherwise I shall have to do it. (I have done this Marginalia for Bapuji’s biography with Chandrashankar). Once the Marginalia is prepared, we can consider that a large part of writing the biography of Mahadevbhai, and even of Bapuji, as completed.
Bapuji had put Mahadevbhai for a short period at the service of Motilalji and Chittranjandas as well. We must find out the correct dates of these. He provided satisfactory services and then rushed back to Bapuji in time. Mahadevbhai had edited ‘Independent’ of Motilalji, and we must get its relevant files.
I will dictate a letter after coming to Ahmedabad to solicit information about Mahadevbhai from the following persons: