The Spirit of Mahatma

Wednesday 23rd March 2016 07:38 EDT
The Spirit of Mahatma, a book by Dr Rizwan Kadri, gives a new dimension to the relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and his private secretary Mahadev Desai, who was like a son to him. The book was published on January 30, 2015 titled 'Mahatma No Atma' in Gujarati. The book combines Mahatma's memoir of Mahadev Desai. Mahadevbhai's sudden death on August 15, 1942 shocked Gandhiji. Gandhiji gives vivid description of the events leading to Mahadevbhai's death. It gives a live account of the fateful day and draws the readers into the emotional vortex, Gandhiji, Kasturba and other fellow prisoners passed through. Gandhiji laments that while Mahadevbhai wanted to write a memoir of him, God took him away and he (Gandhiji) was left to write the memoir of Mahadhavbhai. Gandhiji talks about the establishment of Kochrab ashram and his association with Mahadevbhai. Gandhiji also describes about the end of Mahadevbhai and the burial and the sadness they all experienced.


Jawaharlalji, Rajaji, Vallabhbhai, Rajkumari, the descendent of Srinivas Sashtri, Devdas, Ram Naresh Tripathi, George Joseph, Pothan Joseph, Dr Shivaji Patwardhan, Vainkuthbhai Mehta, S A Brelvi, the descendents of Jamnalal Bajaj and Narsopant Kelkar, Dr Rajan, Ghanshyamdas Birla, Swami Anand, Jairamdas, Kripalani and Chandrashankar.

There were foreign correspondents as well –Luis Fischer, Horace Alexander, Agatha Harrison and others with whom he corresponded regularly. We do not know what happened to the correspondence with Adrew though. Here few names are given as examples only.

The material we need is to be found in Young India, Navjivan, Harijan and other papers, moreover the real material will be found in Mahadevbhai’s diaries. After reading all those materials we shall cull them issue-wise in the form prepare notes on card-sized paper. I shall show you how to do this.

Certain events of Mahadevbhai’s life will need to be handled delicately. For example, when Bapuji suggested that the families in the Ashram must be segregated, with men living in one quarters and the women in another, Mahadevbhai clearly refused to comply with the idea and showed his readiness to shift to Vidyapith instead, and Bapuji then abandoned the idea.

We must also touch the occasion when Mahadevbhai went on a fast of 14 days very delicately and also matters like his confessions in his speech before the students of the Vidyapith, though the matter must be collected fully.

The fact that Mahadevbhai had approached Khijr Hayat Khan and got Prithvi Singh freed also must be included in the biography. The details of his travel to England can be provided by both Devdas and Pyarelal. We shall obtain all this from them. Many can give us some details of his life in jails too.

From the ladies at the Ashram also we may come to know a lot about Mahadevbhai. We shall gradually collect all that. There would not be any cheese-paring in collecting material and details. However, we shall strictly discriminate as to which material should be selected for inclusion in the writing.

The foremost work in front of us is to obtain maximum possible material from those who are already very old. However, some of them may not have even moments to spare. Anyway, I stop writing this letter halfway here. I need it more than you do. Make a copy of this and send it to me. I shall write more in the next one.

Yours with love,


Vande Mataram.


comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter