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13. Vow of Poverty
When Bapu was staying in the Ashram at Sabarmati, now and again some thieves would break in and take away clothes and pots and pans of the inmates. As the inmates were all under a vow of poverty, they could not lay their hands on anything more precious. Once, however, Ba's two boxes, con­taining clothes, were stolen. Their contents were removed, while the empty boxes were thrown away in the neighbouring fields. Referring to this, Bapu asked, "What I fail to understand is how Ba could at all have two boxes of clothes? For, she does not wear a different sari every day."
Ba replied, "Rami and Manu (daughters of Bapu's eldest son, Harilalbhai) have lost their mother, as you know. Sometime they come to stay with me. I kept away all the saris and pieces of Khadi, given to me as presents from time to time, so that I can give them these things as gifts."
Bapu rejoined, "But we cannot do that at all. Even the articles, given as gifts, if they are not of immediate use to the person to whom they are given, have to be deposited in the office." In the evening, after prayers, he continued the argument: "We, who are under a vow of poverty, cannot afford to give any gifts. Such an action is unbecoming of us. All that we can do is to extend only hospitality to the girls, whenever they come to stay among us."
From that day onward, Ba did not accumulate even two extra articles of wear, be­ing quite content with the clothes, which were absolutely necessary.