For Gandhiji, only practice was his speech. When someone in Bengal requested a message from Gandhiji, he wrote for them in Bengali that, ‘Amar jivani amar vani’- My life is my message.
After he returned to India from South Africa, when Gandhiji went to the jail for
the first time, he used to get up at four o’clock in the morning and worked
throughout the day like a farmer of our country. He used to do physical labour
daily for six hours, which included four hours of spinning and two hours of
carding. This was in order to identify himself with the masses who earn their
living with the sweat of the brow.
When Shri Shankarlal Banker, a close colleague of Gandhiji, was jailed with him,
Gandhiji immediately set a time-table for his routine in the jail and Shankerlal
also used to spin for two hours.
Now, it was the time for Banker to get released. In a way, Bapu had given a
totally new life to Banker with his own company in the jail. So, Banker was
talking to Gandhiji regarding the change in his life due to Gandhiji’s motherly
love and care.
Listening to him Gandhiji told him, “If you feel that you have been benefited in
your life with my company in the jail, do talk to the people about the life here
in the jail when you go out.”
Banker replied, “Certainly, I will definitely tell this to everybody, and I am
sure that they will also definitely gain out of it.”
Gandhiji instantly questioned, “Do you know what people will tell on listening
to that talk?”
Banker replied, “I have not thought of it.”
Gandhiji had very good understanding of human nature and its weaknesses. He knew
that our people are indeed expert in putting great people on the shelf, instead
of actually following them.
Bapu said, “See, I tell you. They will just say that, Gandhiji is the Mahatma.
Only he can live such a life. How can we follow him?”
Banker was now convinced. He said, “That is correct. People do think that way
and they will exactly say like this.”
Bapu said: “Then, what will you tell them about it?”
Shankarlalbhai said, “I have not given any thought to it, so what can I say?”
Bapu told him, “If someone tells you like that, then please tell them that I was
not born Mahatma. There were many deficiencies in me and I had been endeavouring
constantly and carefully to remove them. Even as a Bania becomes rich,
collecting even half and half paisa, similarly, I kept cultivating good virtues
and today the situation is, people call me a Mahatma, although, I am still far
away from that position. So, it’s a highway for everybody and everyone can
progress, if one thinks and tries in this direction with faith and firmness.”