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
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