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133. "Have I Property ?"

Under this caption Gandhiji wrote as follows in Young India :

"Among the many curious inquiries I receive, here are some from a correspondent in Guntur District. People say Gandhiji does not do what he says. He preaches poverty, but possesses property. He wants others to become poor, but he is not poor. He advocates simple and inexpensive life yet he is expensive. So, answer the questions below: 'Do you take anything from the A. I. G. C. or Gujarat Congress Committee for your living and touring expenses ? If so what is the amount ? If not, how are you meeting the ex­penses for your long tours and your food and clothing if you are, as people take you to be, a propertyless man ?' There is much more in the letter of the same kind, but I have taken out the most salient points.

"I do make the claim that I attempt to act as I preach. But I must confess that I am not as inexpensive in my wants as I would like to be. My food since my illness costs more than it should. By no means can I call it a poor man's food. My travels too cost more than they did before my illness. I am no longer able to travel long distances third class. Nor ; do I travel as I did before without a companion. All this means not simplicity and poverty but the reverse of it. I draw nothings from the A.I.C.C. or the .Gujarat Committee. But friends find my travelling expenses including food and clothing. Often during my tours railway tickets are purchased by those who invite me and my host everywhere covers me with kind attention which often embarrasses me. People present me during my tours with much more Khaddar than I need. The balance goes to clothe those who need it or it is put in the general Khaddar stock of the Ashram which is conducted in the public interest. I own no property and yet I feel that I am perhaps the richest man in the world. For I have never been in want either for myself or for my public concerns. God has always and invariably responded in time. I can recall several occasions when almost the last penny had been spent for my public activities. Moneys then came in from the most unexpected quarters. These responses have made me humble and filled me with a faith in God and His goodness that will stand the strain of utter distress" if it ever becomes my lot in life. It is open to the world, therefore, to laugh at dispos­sessing myself of all property. "For me the dispossession has been a positive gain. I would like people to compete with me in my contentment. It is the richest treasure I own. Hence it is perhaps right to say that though I preach poverty, I am a rich man."