From Rajkot I proceeded to Shantiniketan. The teachers and students overwhelmed me with affection. The reception was a beautiful combination of simplicity, art and love. It was here I met Kakasaheb Kalelkar for the first time.
I did not know then why Kalelkar was called 'Kakasaheb'. But I
learnt later on that Sjt. Keshavrao Deshpande, who was a
contemporary and a close friend of mine in England, and who had
conducted a school in the Baroda State called 'Ganganath Vidyalaya',
had given the teachers family names with a view to investing the
Vidyalaya with a family atmosphere. Sjt. Kalelkar who was a teacher
there came to be called, 'Kaka' (literaly, paternal uncle), Phadke was
called 'Mama' (literaly, maternal uncle), and Harihar Sharma received the
name 'Anna' (literaly, brother). Others also got similar names. Anandanand
(Swami) as Kaka's friend and Patwardhan (Appa) as Mama's
friend later joined the family, and all in course of time became my
co-workers one after another. Sjt. Deshpande himself used to be
called 'Saheb'. When the Vidyalaya had to be dissolved, the family
also broke up, but they never gave up their spiritual relationship
or their assumed names.
Kakasaheb went out to gain experience of different institutions, and
at the time I went to Shantiniketan, he happened to be there.
Chintaman Shastri, belonging to the same fraternity, was there also.
Both helped in teaching Samskrit.
The Phoenix family had been assigned separate quarters at
Shantiniketan. Maganlal Gandhi was at their head, and he had made it
his business to see that all the rules of the Phoenix Ashram should
be scrupulously observed. I saw that, by dint of his love, knowledge
and perseverance, he had made his fragrance felt in
the whole of Shantiniketan.
Andrews was there, and also Pearson. Amongst the Bengali teachers
with whom we came in fairly close contact were Jagadanandbabu,
Nepalbabu, Santoshbabu, Kshitimohanbabu, Nagenbabu, Sharadbabu and
As is my wont, I quickly mixed with the teachers and students, and
engaged them in a discussion on self-help. I put it to the teachers
that, if they and the boys dispensed with the services of paid cooks
and cooked their food themselves, it would enable the teachers to
control the kitchen from the point of view of the boy's physical and
moral health, and it would afford to the students an object-lesson
in self-help. One or two of them were inclined to shake their heads.
Some of them strongly approved of the proposal. The boys welcomed
it, if only because of their instinctive taste for novelty. So we
launched the experiment. When I invited the Poet to express his
opinion, he said that he did not mind it provided the teachers were
favourable. To the boys he said, 'The experiment contains the key to
Pearson began to wear away his body in making the experiment a
success. He threw himself into it with zest. A batch was formed to
cut vegetables, another to clean the grain, and so on. Nagenbabu and
others undertook to see to the sanitary cleaning of the kitchen and
its surroundings. It was a delight to me to see them working spade
But it was too much to expect the hundred and twenty-five boys with
their teachers to take to this work of physical labour like ducks to
water. There used to be daily discussion. Some began early to show
fatigue. But Pearson was not the man to be tired. One would always
find him with his smiling face doing something or other in or about
the kitchen. He had taken upon himself the cleaning of the bigger
utensils. A party of students played on their sitar
before this cleaning party in order to beguile the tedium of the
operation. All alike took the thing up with zest and Shantiniketan
became a busy hive.
Changes like these when once begun always develop. Not only was the
Phoenix party's kitchen self-conducted, but the food cooked in it
was of the simplest. Condiments were eschewed. Rice, dal,
vegetables and even wheat flour were all cooked at one and the same
time in a steam cooker. And Shantiniketan boys started a similar kitchen with a view to introducing reform in the Bengali
kitchen. One or two teachers and some students ran this kitchen.
The experiment was, however, dropped after some time. I am of the opinion
that the famous institution lost nothing by having conducted the
experiment for a brief interval, and some of the experiences gained
could not but be of help to the teachers.
I had intended to stay at Shantiniketan for some time, but fate
willed otherwise. I had hardly been there a week when I received
from Poona a telegram announcing Gokhale's death. Shantiniketan was
immersed in grief. All the members came over to me to express their
condolences. A special meeting was called in the Ashram temple to
mourn the national loss. It was a solemn function. The same day I
left for Poona with my wife and Maganlal. All the rest stayed at
Andrews accompanied me up to Burdwan. 'Do you think,' he asked me,
'that a time will come for Satyagraha in India? And if so, have you
any idea when it will come?'
'It is difficult to say,' said I. 'For one year I am to do nothing.
For Gokhale took from me a promise that I should travel in India for
gaining experience, and express no opinion on public questions until
I have finished the period of probation. Even after the year is
over, I will be in no hurry to speak and pronounce opinions. And so
I do not suppose there will be any occasion for Satyagraha for five
years or so.'
I may note in this connection that Gokhale used to laugh at some of
my ideas in Hind Swaraj (Indian Home Rule)
and say: 'After you have stayed a year in India, your views will