Arogyavanam, Chittoor District
7th August, 1928
A pastoral vision of great beauty is spread all around me. The sunset has dyed
the clouds in the west in the glowing colours of flame and in the east in the
tender colours of flowers. The low hills have taken on every dream-like shadow,
steeped in blue and purple, and the undulating valley just below is settling
down to rest, gathering the wandering sheep, hushing the wild dove and wild
hawks to slumber, collecting the little groups of peasants and labourers to
their thatched huts under the boughs of sheltering trees... Soon, all the
denizens of this secluded colony set in the heart of such sylvan beauty will be
at rest, each in his or her own bed, and soon the nightfall will wrap the hills
and valleys and woods in a velvet darkness... but the darkness alas does not
always bring comfort to the suffering nor sleep... What poignant vigils does the
night witness that the world never knows... how many such poignant vigils have
the people of Bardoli kept night after night after night... but I rejoice that
tonight the darkness will bring dreams of sweetness to those whose spirits were
so unwearied in battle through long and terrible weeks... the sleep of the satyagrahi
when his work is over is indeed a divine gift of the Gods.
Do you remember the words of the German philosopher, "let your work be a
battle, let your peace be a victory"? So it has been at Bardoli. The peace
has indeed been a victory of peace and peaceful ways.
I have just finished the last page of the English version of your moving and
vivid history of the South African satyagraha when the post brought the
papers with the longed for and joyful news of the Bardoli settlement...
honourable to both sides. As I wrote to "Sardar" Vallabhai a month
ago, I have always felt and known that satyagraha in its deep, authentic
sense, is literally "the treasure of the lowly," to use Maeterlinck's
beautiful phrase for those who are content with realities and not seekers after
false values and false shadows... Your dream was to make Bardoli the perfect
example of satyagraha: Bardoli has fulfilled itself, in its own fashion,
interpreting and perfecting your dream.
I have not written to you all these months. You know I never write unless the
mood or the moment or some other unique matter needs to find expression and you
are already too heavily burdened with irrelevant and unnecessary correspondence
and correspondents. You know that I am very closely in touch with you at all
times and that it does not need frequent interchange of words between us. I know
too that I always have your affection and your understanding and in no
circumstances your misunderstanding or lack of understanding!
I have been all the time with Padmaja since the All Parties One Day Conference.
She has had very interrupted convalescence. Her temperature and temperament are
both rather difficult factors, one is so erratic in its ups and downs; the other
is so extraordinarily delicate, sensitive, and finely strong. But I hope that
now she will begin to have a more steady chronicle of progress.
I have become an expert in all the domestic virtues - practice makes perfect,
but even more true is the proverb that opportunity makes - the Cook! I am almost
as skilled in the culinary art as you are. Don't I know, remember and in memory
still relish all the forbidden dainties you cooked for me during my first visit
to the ashram long ago when your unfortunate inmates were the victims of
your passion for boiled unsalted cereals, dog's food as I called it, only my
dogs would never eat such dreadful stuff!
I hope to be in Bombay about the 20th on my way to Lucknow for the All Parties'
The decisions of that conference will have momentous consequences. I can only
pray that Lucknow will be once again a historic centre of Hindu-Muslim
reconciliation and cooperation...
You know that the very core and centre of all my public labour has been - the
Now about America: it seems to be written in the book of fate that I must go.
You and everyone else in India think that I should go. The calls from America
are incessant and insistent. I am not very happy at the thought of leaving India
at such a critical time: but I have given my word and I mean to keep it. Maybe I
shall be good ambassador. I go not to refute the falsehoods of an
ignorant and insolent woman but to interpret the Soul of India to a young nation
striving to create its own traditions in a new world... India has an
imperishable gift to make to the new world as it has made to the old world age
It is getting too dark to write... and I must get back to the ward and get
Padmaja's invalid dinner of soup and a cheese toast both of my own legerdemain!
I was Mary when I commenced my letter in the radiant sunset, I am Martha at the
moment cumbered with household cares. So should every woman be, should she not,
a combination of Martha, the housemother, and Mary, the daughter of beauty of
Good night. May the peace that passeth all understanding be yours - O apostle of
Your loving "Mirabai",
If you can create one moment, do please send a word of cheer to Padmaja who has
been really a very courageous little sufferer... and when, not if, you write to
me, please address it to Bombay.
From: SN 14456