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01. Birth and Parentage

My father, Karamchand Gandhi, was Prime Minister in Porbandar. He was a lover of his clan, truthful, brave and generous, but short-tempered.

He never had any ambition to accumulate riches and left us very little property.

He had no education. At best, he might be said to have read up to the fifth Gujarati standard. Of history and geography he was innocent. But his rich experience of practical affairs stood him in good stead in the solution of the most intricate questions and in managing hundreds of men. 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.

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. She would take the hardest vows and keep them whatever happened. Illness was no excuse for relaxing them. I can recall her once falling ill when she was observing  the  Chandrayana vow, but the illness was not allowed to come  in  the  way  of  the  observance. To keep two or three fasts one after another was nothing to her. Living on one meal a day during Chaturmas was a habit with her. Not content with that she fasted every other 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 sun to our mother. Everyone knows  that  at  the  height  of  the rainy season the sun often does not  show  his  face.  And  I  remember days when, at his sudden appear- ance, we would rush and announce it to her. She would run out to see with  her  own  eyes,  but  by  that time the 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.

My mother had strong common sense.  She  was  well  informed about all matters of State.

Of these parents I was born at Porbandar, otherwise known as Sudamapuri,  on  the  2nd  October 1869.