Back | Next

ONLINE BOOKS > THIS WAS BAPU > Origin of his Lion Cloth

 

91. Origin of his Lion Cloth

How Gandhiji came to discard his full dress which he was till then wearing and took to wearing the loin cloth only was related by him in the course of an interview. He said:

"In 1921 Maulana Mahomed Ali was arrested at Waltair whilst he and I were going on a tour to the South. He was torn from Begum Mahomed Ali who was travelling with us. I was deeply moved. She bore the separation bravely and attended meetings in Madras. I left her at Madras and went as far as Madura. On the way I saw in our compartment crowds that were wholly unconcerned with what had happened. Almost without exception they were bedecked in foreign fineries. I entered into conversation with some of them and pleaded for Khadi. For I had no other way open to me to secure the release of the Ali Brothers save through Khadi. They shook their heads as they said, 'We are too poor to buy Khadi and it is so dear.' I realized the substratum of truth be­hind the remark. I had my vest, cap and full Dhoti on. When these uttered only partial truth, the millions of compulsorily naked men, save for their langoti four inches wide and nearly as many feet long, gave through their limbs the naked truth. What effective answer could I give them, if it was not to divest myself of every inch of clothing I decently could and thus to a still greater extent bring my­self in a line with ill-clad masses? And this I did the very next morning after the Madura meeting."