26. The knowledge of language

Gandhiji knew so many languages. He learned the languages not because he wanted to be a scholar but for serving the people.

As his mother tongue he knew Gujarati.

In the school he learned English. Later, his stay in England and South Africa helped him master it.

In South Africa he had to work with the Muslims. So while serving them he learned Urdu also.

Later, in our country, a large number of labourers from Madras (now Chennai) took part in his Satyagraha. So he learned a bit of South Indian languages too.

He had traveled all over India to convey his message to the people. He had come to know the importance of Hindi during it. People from any state could understand his message in Hindi. In the beginning he could not speak Hindi very well but later he learned it properly.

It wasn't that Gandhiji deliberately tried to learn these languages. Instead he learned them through experience. Still he tried to learn them better whenever he had an opportunity.

Whenever he was sent to jail for long durations he would work hard to learn Urdu and Tamil better.

Gandhiji did not know Marathi very well. In South Africa he once prepared a lecture in Marathi with the help of Gokhale and translated it too. Later he made remarkable progress during his stay in Yerawada jail and at Shegaon. During childhood he had learned a bit of Sanskrit in the school. Afterwards he learned it better in jail.

While during his study in England, he acquired essential knowledge of Europe's ancient language - Latin and then he also gained working knowledge of French.

He had mastered his mother-tongue Gujarati. His language wouldn't be showy but truthful, straightforward and full of emotions.