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137. Guru and Chela

Thus Gopal Krishna Gokhale spoke at the Lahore session of the Indian National Congress in 1909 :

"Fellow-delegates, after the immortal part which Mr. Gandhi has played in this affair I must say it will not be possible for any Indian, at any time, here or in any other assembly of Indians, to mention his name without deep emotion and pride."

Here the huge gathering rose to its feet and accorded three hearty and most enthusiastic cheers to Mr. Gandhi.

Gentlemen, it is one of the privileges of my life that know Mr. Gandhi intimately and I can tell that a purer, a nobler and a more exalted spirit has never moved on this earth (cheers and loud applauses). Mr. Gandhi is one of those men, who, living an austerely simple life themselves and devoted to all the highest principles of love to their fellow-beings and truth and justice, touch the eyes of the weaker brethren as with magic and give them a new vision. He is a man who may be well described as a man among men, a hero among heroes, patriot among patriots, and we may well say that in him Indian humanity at the present time has really reached its highest watermark."

Thus Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi wrote in 1921 :

"It was like meeting an old friend, or better still, a mother after a long separation. His gentle face put me at ease in a moment. His minute inquiries about myself and my doings in South Africa at once enshrined him in my heart. And from that moment Gokhale never lost sight of me. In 1901 on my second return from South Africa, we came closer still. He simply 'took me in hand', and began to fashion me. He was concerned about how I spoke, dressed, walked and ate. My mother was not more solicitous about me than Gokhale. There was, so far as I am aware, no reserve between us. It was really a case of love at first sight, and it stood the severest strain in 1913. He seemed to be all I wanted as a political worker—pure as crystal, gentle as a lamb, brave as a lion and chivalrous to a fault. It does not matter to me that he may not have been any of these things. It was enough for me, that I could discover no fault in him to cavil at. He was and remains to me the most perfect man on the political field. Not, therefore, that we had no political differences. We differed even in 1901 in our views on social customs, e.g. widow re-marriage. We discovered differences in our estimate of Western civi­lization. He frankly differed from me in my extreme views on non-violence. But these differences mattered neither to him nor to me. Nothing could put us asunder. It were blasphemous to conjecture what would have happened if he were alive today. I know that I would have been working under him."