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6. A Ghee-Lamp
On that day at Sevagram, Bapu was going to give a discourse after the evening prayers. It was Gandhiji’s birthday. Hence a lot of people had gathered for the evening prayer. A dais had been set for Gandhiji. There were no decorations. The settee was covered with white Khadi. A ghee lamp in a pooja thali was lit at some distance. Gandhiji arrived and saw the lamp. Closing his eyes, he started praying. After the prayer, before starting to discourse, he asked, “Who brought the pooja thali?” Ba answered, “I brought it.” “From where did you get it?” Ba said, “From the village.” Bapu stared at Ba for an instant. Thinking that it was customary for every Hindu woman who wished her husband a long-healthy life, she had the pooja thali and the lamp brought here.
Ba could not gather why Bapu asked this question. Gandhiji exclaimed, “Ba’s lighting this ghee lamp in pooja thali was the worst deed of the day. Today is my birthday. Was it the reason this lamp was lit? I know how people around me lead their everyday life. They don’t even get a few drops of oil for their roti. On the contrary a ghee lamp is burning in my ashram! What if today is my birthday? Good deeds should be committed today, not sin. Who authorised us to misuse a thing which is unavailable to the poor villagers?”