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107. A Lesson In Correct Living

"I have to give you this evening an instance of a folly of which three of us have an equal share," said Gandhiji at one of the prayer meetings at Sabarmati Ashram, "or rather, my share is the biggest inasmuch as, I, as the head of the Ashram, am expected to be much more vigilant than any of you."

As many wondered what this could be, he narrated in vivid and, as he was wont to describe his mistakes, in exaggerated detail. In Gandhiji's room in the Ashram, between the walls which faced the river and roof there was a piece of lattice work. It was meant for ventilation, but it let the sun's rays directly on Gandhiji's face. So he had asked one of the Ashramites to put something there as a screen. This man asked another, who immediately brought in a carpenter with a board. He naturally thought that a shutter would be better than a screen, and asked Gandhiji if he would like it. Gandhiji agreed, but soon after the carpenter began his work, he seemed to have perceived that he had not done the right thing. So he began to think aloud. He first told the friends who were sharers in the mistake, then the ladies he used to meet -every morning, and finally the prayer meeting: "Now this is not we who are pledged to poverty may do. It ought to have occurred to me that a piece of cloth would serve as well as this shutter which costs a couple of rupees and three hours' labour for the carpenter. The cardboard or piece of cloth would have cost nothing and any one could have fixed it there with a couple of nails. It is in these little things that our creed is tested. The Kingdom of Heaven is for those who are poor in spirit. Let us, there­fore, learn at every step to reduce our needs and wants to the terms of the poor and try to be truly poor in spirit."