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03. At Home

My father was a lover of his clan, truthful, brave and generous, but short-tempered.

Of religious training he had very little, but he had that kind of religious culture which frequent visits to temples and listening to religious discourses make available to many Hindus. In his last days he began reading the Gita at the instance of a learned Brahmana friend of the family, and he used to repeat aloud some verses every day at the time of worship.

The outstanding impression my mother has left on my memory is that of saintliness. She was deeply religious. She would not think of taking her meals without her daily prayers. Going to Haveli—the Vaishnava temple—was one of her daily duties. As far as my memory can go back, I do not remember her having ever missed the Chaturmas.1 She would take the hardest vows and keep them without flinching. Illness was no excuse for relaxing them. I can recall her once falling ill when she was observing the Chandrayana2 vow, but the illness was not allowed to interrupt the observance. To keep two or three consecutive fasts was no­thing to her. Living on one meal a day during Chaturmas was a habit with her. Not content with that she fasted every alternate day during one Chaturmas. During another Chatur­mas she vowed not to have food without seeing the sun. We children on those days would stand, staring at the sky, waiting to announce the appearance of the sua to our mother. Everyone knows that at the height of the rainy season the sun often does not condescend to show his face. And I remember days when, at his sudden appearance, we would rush and announce it to her. She would run out to see with her own eyes, but by that time the fugitive sun would be gone, thus depriving her of her meal. "That does not matter," she would say cheerfully, "God did not want me to eat today." And then she would return to her round of duties.

Autobiography, 1948, pp. 12-13

1. Lit. a period of four months. A vow of fasting and semi-fasting during the four months of the rains. The period is a sort of long Lent.

2. A sort of fast in which the daily quantity of food is increased or diminished according as the moon waxes or wanes.