Bapu has set before us a unique example through his life and work. But Ba's share in making Bapu what he was not a small one. Bapu himself said after her death, "I could not have attained to the present height of my inner progress but for Ba's co-operation." A study of the married life of Ba and Bapu will, therefore, surely prove inspiring to the present generation as also to the future generations as long as the old Indian ideal of a householder's life retains its hold on the people's mind.
Bapu's betrothal with Ba took place when Bapu was only six and Ba seven. The actual
marriage came off when he was thirteen years of age. Thus, they lived a long
married life of sixty-two years. This means that Ba alone of all persons had the
unique opportunity to see and understand Bapu's life in all its completeness —
both at its weakest and strongest. She was a close witness of Bapu's spiritual
progress from overindulgence in sensual pleasure to perfect brahmacharya.
When he made a resolve to observe brahmacharya she readily accepted
it as her own. Her noblest virtue, to quote Bapu's words, was this that 'she was
never the temptress.' Thus, as his partner in the performance of life's duty Ba
played the role of a real helpmate in the making of Bapu's life. She never came
in the way of Bapu's efforts for his spiritual progress. Writing about it in his
Autobiography Bapu says: "Willingly or unwillingly, consciously or
unconsciously, she has considered herself blessed in following in my foot-steps
and has never stood in the way of my endeavour to lead a life of restraint."
Numberless men and women came in contact with Bapuji, the relationship between
them differing according to the spirit in which they approached him. To them, he
was father or teacher or leader and so on. But to Ba he was husband and as such
she was in the most intimate contact with him. Seen thus, it becomes evident
that these anecdotes relating to their life in this respect are sure to be of
great help in understanding Bapu.
With this object in view I have collected here as many as 117 such anecdotes. The books I
have used for this purpose are: Amaran Ba, Atmakatha, Dakshina Afrikana
Satyagrahano Itihasa, Ba Bapuni Shili Chhayaman, Bapuna Karavasni Kahani1
Besides these, I have also drawn upon a few stray articles. Needless to say
that I am greedy indebted to all these writers. I must also express my grateful
thanks to Shri Maganbhai P. Desai for the thoughtful Introduction he has very
kindly contributed to this book in answer to my request.
I will deem my labour amply rewarded if this collection prompts the readers to
undertake a more earnest study of the significance of Bapu's life and work.