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95. Gandhiji At Adyar

In his reminiscences the late Shri G. A. Natesan has recalled an incident of the days during which Gandhiji stayed with him as his guest in Madras soon after his return to India from South Africa in 1915. Dr. Annie Besant had extended an invitation to Gandhiji to visit her head­quarters at Adyar during his stay in Madras. When Gandhiji arrived at Adyar he was received on the beautiful grounds of the Theosophical Society and entertained with gracious courtesy and charm. Gandhiji had the highest respect and admiration for the venerable lady who had so completely dedicated her life to the service of this country. Dr. Besant conducted the distinguished guest through the splendid hall and well furnished apartments and then led him on to an unpretentious shed in the neighbourhood of which was the school foF the 'untouch­ables'. Dr. Besant was in a sense a pioneer in the matter of affording facilities for the education of Panchamas, but to Gandhiji the contrast between the. palatial residence for one set of people and the mean quarters for another was too much to be tolerated.

He felt so poignantly that he decided on changing the programme for staying there for the night and insisted on returning to his quarter in George Town. Shri Natesan says he remonstrated with Gandhiji and pointed out that it would cause deep pain to Dr. Besant and that she would be seriously annoyed with him also. Gandhiji was firm in his decision. Late in the night, adds Shri Natesan, Gandhiji bade adieu to the quarters in Adyar.