He replied, "I want to impart to you both knowledge and wisdom." I retorted, "Mahadevbhai could become your secretary only because he was so highly educated. Have not all others also, who have risen and become great, done so because of their degrees?" Bapu laughed and said, "No use being great. You had better use the word upadhi1 (i.e. burden) for a degree. A degree is really a burden. I regret having become a barrister and. if you believe me, I am not even conscious of being one. Because of my experience, I would rather save others from that burden. One may of course study several languages. But what troubles me is this cramming for university degrees for which students ruin their health. Today our country needs constructive work. There is immense work to be done in the villages. The whole face of our country will be changed if our students utilize for some constructive work the time spent on studies. It would certainly be a different story if the idea behind all this reading was to gain knowledge. The aim should be knowledge through reading, and reading on the basis of knowledge. But at present there is the vicious circle of examinations for studies, and studies for examinations. And then? Ultimately the knowledge gained is utilized for earning money. Some become doctors, some pleaders, some engineers; and the mad hunt for employment begins. Even with employment one may not get enough for one's needs. So the one idea behind all education is to obtain the highest post. I admit there are exceptions to this rule. I certainly do not mean to say that all the forty crores have only this one object in view. But this is the main idea behind education. It is altogether wrong to believe that service can be rendered only after a certain amount of education. One can serve under any circumstance. God has endowed man with such powers that he can reasonably find no excuse for not rendering service. But man is so wicked, that he snatches at any pretext whatsoever for avoiding work. If some have money to serve with, others have a healthy body or intelligence. Whatever capacities we have we should utilize in service. We shall get cent per cent marks if we dedicate to the Lord all we have. If one who owns a crore of rupees gives only half a crore, he will get only 50 per cent marks; but if he who has only a pie gives that pie away, he will get cent per cent marks.
"One's service should be untainted. If a person renders service on account of fear or selfishness, that is no service. There is no place for selfishness where everything is offered to the Lord. A man who renders service in this spirit adds daily to his strength. Even work for his daily bread should be a part of service. One who is dedicated to service, renders service through everyone of his acts including even trifling actions like laughing, or just playing. His acts will in this sense be pure. God endows such devotees with all the necessary strength. Hence these verses in the Gita:
तेषां नित्याभियुक्तानां योगक्षेमं वहाम्यहम् ॥ ९-२२ ॥
कथयन्तश्च मां नित्यं तुष्यन्ति च रमन्ति च ॥ १०-९ ॥
ददामि बुद्धियोगं तं येन मामुपयान्ति ते ॥ १०-१० ॥
"Just ponder over these verses. The last verse has deep significance. Unbounded faith is required to realize it; but what I want to impress on you is that all your degrees will not help you in doing God's work. Where would you have been, had you studied enough to have entered a college by now? If I could have my way, I would ask all college girls and boys to throw themselves into this communal fire to quench it. India, which appears like a mere speck on the world map, will become as big as an ocean if our students gave up this infatuation for degrees. The wise saying that, 'one should cut one's coat according to one's cloth' holds good not only for small families but for big nations as well. Our customs and activities should conform to the genius of our nation. We shall be heading for disaster if we blindly imitate the English. The crow saved himself when he reverted to his own gait and gave up imitating that of the swan. You know that story, don't you? Stories are not only for entertainment. They are meant to convey valuable lessons. Of course there are many bad customs in India, but if she proceeds according to her genius, she will occupy an unimaginable high position, for there is nothing to match Indian culture. New meanings will emerge as I go on explaining the Gita to you. But today it is enough if you digest this much. Write it down. Don't do it for the sake of mere writing. The Gila should be learnt with a view to practising its teachings. Today's whole lesson is based on the Gita."
I was taught this lesson because of my complaint about his coming in the way of my studies. It was an invaluable one. Bapu was so kindhearted that he took all criticism, as he would honeyed water. We were free to say to him, whatever we thought, without hesitation. How unfortunate it is that only today I realize how childishly impertinent I was to him! How true is the Gujarati proverb, 'Even if children are naughty parents never forsake them!' God alone knows why Bapu insisted that I should write my diary, even if had to give up a part of my service to him. Perhaps he had a presentiment of his death within a year. The diary, therefore, turned out to be his will and testament for me.