Next

SELECTED LETTERS > GANDHI -SAROJINI NAIDU CORRESPONDENCELetter from Sarojini Naidu to Gandhiji, March 6, 1915
 

Letter from Sarojini Naidu to Gandhiji, March 6, 1915

Hyderabad, Deccan
6 March, 1915

Dear Friend:
What am I to say to you? My heart has been torn and my right hand cut off from me. As I have said the irony of God lies heavy upon me and I have very little strength and courage left to endure it much longer. In the brief space of three weeks I have been called to face the loss of two great sons and faithful servants of India - my father and my friend... and my love for both was leavened with passionate worship and devotion; and to both it was my privilege to stand in a special relationship and though I am in some way only a co-sharer in the universal grief I feel I have my own incommunicable share, because of the incommensurable tenderness and understanding that lay between me and my father, between me and my friend. But it is of the friend I would speak to you now. You never knew my father - that great soul whose heart was incarnate love and his mind incarnate truth and spirit incarnate wisdom... He used to honour you because he felt that in you dwelt love and truth and wisdom in such signal measure. Had you known him you would have come under the spell of his radiant and noble personality.
What am I to say of Gokhale? Even to you who considered him your guru and of whom he so often said to me, "He can mould heroes out of common clay..." What beautiful things he used to say of you to me in the course of those long and intimate personal talks it was my privilege to have with him in London... Some day I will remember them all and tell you so that they might serve as a further inspiration to your life of perfect sacrifice and love... I have a hundred memories of the man - too poignant and too personal to reveal to the world, but I have written a short sketch of him giving a few of those reminiscences of him, chiefly in his own words, that I can allow the world to share with me. The man Gokhale was a marvelous, great, and complex embodiment of God's dreams of a splendid patriot: complex he was essentially and many sided and it is his triumph that he focused all his myriad qualities into supreme and single-hearted achievement of service: he was literally a servant of India and in that he fulfilled the proudest and the highest destiny of man: what can be a more gracious fate than to be allowed to serve?
My little sketch will first appear early next week in The Bombay Chronicle and I propose, if the members of the Servants of India Society approve, to expand it a little and give it more permanent form as a pamphlet and issue it for sale - and devote the proceeds - however humble - to their fund. It is only my poor way of showing my desire also to "stand and wait" at the gates of the temple of service where once he made me take an oath in his presence, with the stars as witness - but of that you will read in my little tribute. Will you please convey to the members of the Society my deepest fellowship with them in their sorrow and loss? I too was among his chosen disciples but for me he chose other modes of work than them... "Your function of service is to inspire," he would say to me, "you are a songbird and must sing to the heart of the nation. You are a flame and must act like a beacon light of Hope." Oh I cannot think of all his loving and moving words without anguish... He was an incomparable friend, stern and loyal in admonition and reproof, tender and gracious in sympathy and kinship, generous and ready in praise, chivalrous to defend and to shield and (to) uphold, equally ready to guide as to follow in the right path... unspeakably gentle and loving and unselfish in all his intercourse as friend and comrade, whose love was a benediction and crown. My health is, I regret to say, a source of much anxiety to my husband: my heart has suffered severely from the two shocks I have recently sustained - but my life is excessively full - overcrowded with work and duties of all kinds with the public as well as the social life of the place - special kind of work with education, women's associations, the young men and their enthusiasm, and now of course the war relief work which keeps us all continuously engaged with our hands as well as our sympathies. Our Indian ladies, both Hindu and Mussalman, have turned out splendid workers behind their seclusion!
On the 18th there is to be a huge memorial meeting for Mr. Gokhale. Mr. Syed Hussain Bilgrami, his old colleague and admirer, will preside and I hope the speakers will represent every community and creed. I of course have the honour to be one of the principal speakers on this sad occasion because of my close personal association with him.
My husband sends you his warmest respects. He is an exceedingly busy man but not too busy to find leisure to appraise and value to the full a great man's worth and work. My children who think they really know you and your wife because of my frequent mention of you send you their love and hope to see you soon. Will you not come some day to Hyderabad, to the great city which is the true centre of Hindu-Muslim unity and brotherhood? How our women will flock to offer their tribute of love to your wife; how every man and woman will vie with one another to see the man who moulds heroes out of common clay and does not even know that he has done a godlike deed of creation!
Believe dear brother. With much affection for you both,

Your sincere friend
Sarojini Naidu

From: SN 6160