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126. Death of his spiritual son

In December 1920, one day during the Congress week in Nagpur a Marwadi youth of 30 springs presented him­self before Mahatma Gandhi and said, "I want to ask something of you." "Ask, and it shall be given, if it is at all within my power to give," replied Gandhiji with some surprise. "Regard me as your son Devadas," the young man said. "Agreed," replied Gandhiji, "only I am giving nothing, you are the giver."

This youth was Jamnalal Bajaj, who, though not originally born with a silver spoon in his mouth, had been blessed by God early in life with opulence beyond the dream of most men.

The effect on Gandhiji of this surrender on the part of Jamnalalji was no less profound than on Jamnalalji him­self. Bewailing the passing away of this matchless spiritual son of his on 11th February 1942, Gandhiji wrote pathetically in Harijan (22-2-'42) :

"Never before, I can say, was a mortal blessed with a 'son' like him. Of course I have many sons and daughters in the sense that they have done some of my work. But Jamnalalji surrendered himself and his without reservation. There is hardly any activity of mine in which I did not receive his full-hearted co-operation and in which it did not prove to be of the greatest value. He was gifted with a quick intelligence. He was a merchant prince. He placed at my disposal his ample possessions. He became guardian of my time and my health. And he did it all for the public good. The day he died he and Janakidevi were to come to me. But he died almost at the very hour he should have been with me. Never before have I felt so forlorn except when Maganlal was snatched from me fourteen years ago. But I had no doubt then, as I have none now, that a calamity of that kind is a blessing in disguise. God wants to try me through and through. I live in the faith that He will give me the strength too to pass through the ordeal."

On the third day of Jamnalalji's death, Gandhiji, while addressing a gathering of the inmates of the Ashram, broke down as he was saying : "Childless people adopt sons. But Jamnalalji adopted me as father. He should have been an heir to my all. Instead he has left me an heir to his all."