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SELECTED LETTERS > GANDHI -SAROJINI NAIDU CORRESPONDENCELetter from Gandhiji to Sarojini Naidu, September 17, 1932

 

Letter From Gandhiji To Sarijini Naidu, September 17, 1932

September 17, 1932

Dear Mother, Singer and Guardian of My Soul,
Your lovely letter was preceded by one lovelier - if possible - from Padmaja. The decision was taken after much prayer, in the name of God and His call. I have no power therefore to postpone the hour of execution.
You have every right to call upon me to revise my decisions and actions and it is my duty to respond, if I discover the error. And I claim unquestioned `obedience' if I cannot with all the prayerful effort discover any error. You have `manfully' asserted the right and woman-like offered obedience.
The motherly affection has blinded the poetic vision and prompted you to appeal to my pride to retrace my steps so as to make me cling to life.
But I know you have not missed the woman in me. I have therefore chosen the way of life through suffering unto death. I must therefore find my courage in my weakness.
This is how your vision has failed you. The communal decision was the last straw. The conception of giving my life for the untouchables is not of yesterday. It is very old. There was no call from within for years. But the Cabinet's decision came like a violent alarm waking me from my slumber and telling me this is the time. It therefore provided the psychological moment and I instinctively seized it. The necessarily restricted wording of my official letter covers in their implications the very things you have me to die for and to live for - one and the same thing in essence. She who sees life in death and death in life is the real Poetess and Seeress. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You will soon test it and prove it for yourself. Meanwhile pray that God may give me strength enough to walk steadily through the vale. If Hinduism is to live, untouchability must die.
It may be that this is my last letter to you. I have always known and treasured your love. I think that I understood you when I first saw you and heard you at the Criterion in 1914. If I die I shall die in the faith that comrades like you, with whom God has blessed me, will continue the work of the country which is also fully the work of humanity in the same spirit in which it was begun. If the interests of the country are to be one with those of humanity, if the good of one faith is to be the good of all the faiths, it will come only by the strictest adherence to truth and non-violence in thought, word and deed.
And now for a little lesson in recognising one's limitations. You may be a good confectioner, but you need not therefore presume to be a good baker or a judge of good bread. Well, my brown bread is really superior to your `good white bread'. And there is an interesting, instructive history behind it, which you should get Major Bhandari to relate to you, if he will. Anyway there was to be a choice between my delicious and digestible brown bread and leathery chapati. Those who were doomed to these chapatis have chosen the brown loaf. I accept your apology in anticipation.

From: Mahadevbhaini Diary, Volume II, pages 38-40; Collected Works, Volume 51, pages 70-71