My elder brother had built high hopes on me. The desire for wealth and name and fame was great in him. He had a big heart, generous to a fault. This, combined with his simple nature, had attracted to him many friends, and through them he expected to get me briefs. He had also assumed that I should have a swinging practice and had, in that expectation, allowed the household expenses to become top-heavy. He had also left no stone unturned in preparing the field for my practice.
The storm in my caste over my foreign voyage was still brewing. It had divided
the caste into two camps, one of which immediately re-admitted me,
while the other was bent on keeping me out. To please the former my
brother took me to Nasik before going to Rajkot, gave me a bath in
the sacred river and, on reaching Rajkot, gave a caste dinner. I did
not like all this. But my brother's love for me was boundless, and
my devotion to him was in proportion to it, and so I mechanically
acted as he wished, taking his will to be law. The trouble about
re-admission to the caste was thus practically over.
I never tried to seek admission to the section that had refused it. Nor did
I feel even mental resentment against any of the headmen of that
section. Some of these regarded me with dislike, but I scrupulously
avoided hurting their feelings. I fully respected the caste
regulations about ex-communication. According to these, none of my
relations, including my father-in-law and mother-in-law, and even my
sister and brother-in-law, could entertain me; and I would not so
much as drink water at their houses. They were prepared secretly to
evade the prohibition, but it went against the grain with me to do a
thing in secret that I would not do in public.
The result of my scrupulous conduct was that I never had occasion to be
troubled by the caste; nay, I have experienced nothing but affection
and generosity from the general body of the section that still
regards me as ex-communicated. They have even helped me in my work,
without ever expecting me to do anything for the caste. It is my
conviction that all these good things are due to my non-resistance.
Had I agitated for being admitted to the caste, had I attempted to
divide it into more camps, had I provoked the castemen, they would
surely have retaliated, and instead of steering clear of the storm,
I should on arrival from England, have found myself in a whirlpool
of agitation, and perhaps a party to dissimulation.
My relations with my wife were still not as I desired. Even my stay in
England had not cured me of jealousy. I continued my squeamishness
and suspiciousness in respect of every little thing, and hence all
my cherished desires remained unfulfilled. I had decided that my
wife should learn reading and writing and that I should help her in
her studies, but my lust came in the way and she had to suffer for
my own shortcoming. Once I went the length of sending her away to
her father's house, and consented to receive her back only after I
had made her thoroughly miserable. I saw later that all this was
pure folly on my part.
I had planned reform in the education of children. My brother had
children, and my own child which I had left at home when I went to
England was now a boy of nearly four. It was my desire to teach
these little ones physical exercise and make them hardy, and also to
give them the benefit of my personal guidance. In this I had my
brother's support and I succeeded in my efforts more or less. I very
much liked the company of children, and the habit of playing and
joking with them has stayed with me till today. I have ever since
thought that I should make a good teacher of children.
The necessity for food 'reform' was obvious. Tea and coffee had already
found their place in the house. My brother had thought it fit to
keep some sort of English atmosphere ready for me on my return, and
to that end, crockery and such other things, which used to be kept
in the house only for special occasions, were now in general use. My
'reform' put the finishing touch. I introduced oatmeal porridge, and
cocoa was to replace tea and coffee. But in truth it became an
addition to tea and coffee. Boots and shoes were already there. I
completed the Europeanization by adding the European dress.
Expenses thus went up. New things were added every day. We had succeeded in
tying a white elephant at our door. But how was the wherewithal to
be found? To start practice in Rajkot would have meant sure
ridicule. I had hardly the knowledge of a qualified vakil and yet I
expected to be paid ten times his fees! No client would be fool
enough to engage me. And even if such a one was to be found, should
I add arrogance and fraud to my ignorance, and increase the burden
of debt I owed to the world?
Friends advised me to go to Bombay for some time in order to gain experience
of the High Court, to study Indian law and to try to get what briefs
I could. I took up the suggestion and went.
In Bombay I started a household with a cook as incompetent as myself. He was a
Brahman. I did not treat him as a servant but as a member of the
household. He would pour water over himself but never wash. His
dhoti was dirty, as also his sacred thread, and he was completely innocent of
the scriptures. But how was I to get a better cook?
'Well, Ravishankar,' (for that was his name), I would ask him, 'you may not
know cooking, but surely you must know your sandhya (daily worship), etc.
'Sandhya, sir! the plough is our sandhya and the
spade our daily ritual. That is the type of Brahman I am. I must
live on your mercy. Otherwise agriculture is of course there for
So I had to be Ravishankar's teacher. Time I had enough. I began to do half
the cooking myself and introduced the English experiments in
vegetarian cookery. I invested in a stove, and with Ravishankar
began to run the kitchen. I had no scruples about inter-dining,
Ravishankar too came to have none, and so we went on merrily
together. There was only one obstacle. Ravishankar had sworn to
remain dirty and to keep the food unclean!
But it was impossible for me to get along in Bombay for more than four or
five months, there being no income to square with the
This was how I began life. I found the barrister's profession a bad job – much
show and little knowledge. I felt a crushing sense of my responsibility.