From the very first day of my stay with him Gokhale made me feel completely at home. He treated me as though I were his younger brother; he acquainted himself with all my requirements and arranged to see that I got all I needed. Fortunately my wants were few, and as I had cultivated the habit of self-help, I needed very little personal attendance. He was deeply impressed with my habit of fending for myself, my personal cleanliness, perseverance and regularity, and would often overwhelm me with praise.
He seemed to keep nothing private from me. He would introduce me to
all the important people that called on him. Of these the one who
stands foremost in my memory is Dr. (now Sir) P. C. Ray. He lived
practically next door and was a very frequent visitor.
This is how he introduced Dr. Ray: 'This is Professor Ray, who, having a
monthly salary of Rs. 800, keeps just Rs. 40 for himself and devotes
the balance to public purposes. He is not, and does not want to get,
I see little difference between Dr. Ray as he is today and as he
used to be then. His dress used to be nearly as simple as it is,
with this difference of course, that whereas it is Khadi now, it used
to be Indian mill-cloth in those days. I felt I could never hear too
much of the talks between Gokhale and Dr. Ray, as they all pertained
to public good or were of educative value. At times they were
painful too, containing, as they did, strictures on public men. As a
result, some of those whom I had regarded as stalwart fighters began
to look quite puny.
To see Gokhale at work was as much a joy as an education. He never
wasted a minute. His private relations and friendships were all for
public good. All his talks had reference only to the good of the
country and were absolutely free from any trace of untruth or
insincerity. India's poverty and subjection were matters of constant
and intense concern to him. Various people sought to interest him in
different things. But he gave every one of them the same reply: 'You
do the thing yourself. Let me do my own work. What I want is freedom
for my country. After that is won, we can think of other things.
Today that one thing is enough to engage all my time and energy.'
His reverence for Ranade could be seen every moment. Ranade's
authority was final in every matter, and he would cite it at every
step. The anniversary of Ranade's death (or birth, I forget which)
occurred during my stay with Gokhale, who observed it regularly.
There were with him then, besides myself, his friends Professor
Kathavate and a Sub-Judge. He invited us to take part in the
celebration, and in his speech he gave us his reminiscences of
Ranade. He compared incidentally Ranade, Telang and Mandlik. He
eulogized Telang's charming style and Mandlik's greatness as a
reformer. Citing an instance of Mandlik's solicitude for his
clients, he told us an anecdote as to how once, having missed his
usual train, he engaged a special train so as to be
able to attend the court in the interest of his client. But Ranade,
he said, towered above them all, as a versatile genius. He was not
only a great judge, he was an equally great historian, economist
and reformer. Although he was a judge, he fearlessly attended the
Congress, and everyone had such confidence in his sagacity that they
unquestioningly accepted his decisions. Gokhale's joy knew no
bounds, as he described these qualities of head and heart which were
all combined in his master.
Gokhale used to have a horse-carriage in those days. I did not know
the circumstances that had made a horse-carriage a necessity for
him, and so I remonstrated with him: 'Can't you make use of the
tramcar in going about from place to place? Is it derogatory to a
Slightly pained he said, 'So you also have failed to understand me!
I do not use my Council allowances for my own personal comforts. I
envy your liberty to go about in tramcars, but I am sorry I cannot
do likewise. When you are the victim of as wide a publicity as I am,
it will be difficult, if not impossible, for you to go about in a
tramcar. There is no reason to suppose that everything that the
leaders do is with a view to personal comfort. I love your simple
habits. I live as simply as I can, but some expense is almost
inevitable for a man like myself.'
He thus satisfactorily disposed of one of my complaints, but there
was another which he could not dispose of to my satisfaction.
'But you do not even go out for walks,' said I. 'Is it surprising
that you should be always ailing? Should public work leave no time
for physical exercise?'
'When do you ever find me free to go out for a walk?' he replied.
I had such a great regard for Gokhale that I never strove with him.
Though this reply was far from satisfying me, I remained silent. I
believed then, and I believe even now, that, no matter what amount of
work one has, one should always find some time for exercise, just as one
does for one's meals. It is my humble opinion that, far from taking
away from one's capacity for work, it adds to it.