The moment I reached Bombay Gokhale sent me word that the Governor was desirous of seeing me, and that it might be proper for me to respond before I left for Poona. Accordingly I called on His Excellency. After the usual inquiries, he said:
'I ask one thing of you. I would like you to come and see me
whenever you propose to take any steps concerning Government.'
'I can very easily give the promise, inasmuch as it is my rule, as a
Satyagrahi, to understand the viewpoint of the party I propose to
deal with, and to try to agree with him as far as may be possible. I
strictly observed the rule in South Africa and I mean to do the same
Lord Willingdon thanked me and said:
'You may come to me whenever
you like, and you will see that my Government do not willfully do
To which I replied: 'It is that faith which sustains me.'
After this I went to Poona. It is impossible for me to set down all
the reminiscences of this precious time. Gokhale and the members of
the Servants of India Society overwhelmed me with affection. So far
as I recollect, Gokhale had summoned all of them to meet me. I had a
frank talk with them all on every sort of subject.
Gokhale was very keen that I should join the Society and so was I.
But the members felt that, as there was a great difference between
my ideals and methods of work and theirs, it might not be proper for
me to join the Society. Gokhale believed that, in spite of my
insistence on my own principles, I was equally ready and able to
'But,' he said, 'the members of the Society have not yet understood
your readiness for compromise. They are tenacious of their
principles, and quite independent. I am hoping that they will accept
you, but if they don't, you will not for a moment think that they are
lacking in respect or love for you. They are hesitating to take any
risk lest their high regard for you should be jeopardized. But
whether you are formally admitted as a member or not, I am going to
look upon you as one.'
I informed Gokhale of my intentions. Whether I was admitted as a
member or not, I wanted to have an Ashram where I could settle down
with my Phoenix family, preferably somewhere in Gujarat, as, being a
Gujarati, I thought I was best fitted to serve the country through
serving Gujarat. Gokhale liked the idea. He said: 'You should
certainly do so. Whatever may be the result of your talks with the
members, you must look to me for the expenses of the Ashram, which I
will regard as my own.'
My heart overflowed with joy. It was a pleasure to feel free from
the responsibility of raising funds, and to realize that I should
not be obliged to set about the work all on my own, but that I
should be able to count on a sure guide whenever I was in
difficulty. This took a great load off my mind.
So the late Dr. Dev was summoned and told to open an account for me
in the Society's books and to give me whatever I might require for
the Ashram and for public expenses.
I now prepared to go to Shantiniketan. On the eve of my departure
Gokhale arranged a party of selected friends, taking good care to
order refreshments of my liking, i.e., fruits and nuts. The party
was held just a few paces from his room, and yet he was hardly in a
condition to walk across and attend it. But his affection for me got
the better of him and he insisted on coming. He came, but fainted
and had to be carried away. Such fainting was not a new thing with
him and so when he came to, he sent word that we must go on with the
This party was of course no more than a conversazione in the open
space opposite the Society's guesthouse, during which friends had
heart-to-heart chats over light refreshments of groundnuts, dates
and fresh fruits of the season.
But the fainting fit was to be no common event in my life.