33. Three Vows
Mohandas came of age.
Mavji Dave, an old friend and advisor of the family would say, "Send Mohandas to Europe to be a barrister so that he would be able to look after his father's affairs."
It was not easy to go abroad. His father had been a 'deewan' (chief manager) but did not leave much money behind. They tried to get help from the state but in vain. But his elder brother was generous. He vowed to collect the money anyhow.
But there was another obstacle too. If he goes abroad, then what about the religion? What to answer the people of the caste?
Mother Putlibai said, "No, no! He will get defiled (polluted) there. He will eat flesh, drink alcohol and would behave immorally. It's better not to send him there."
Then one Sadhu (a saintly man) suggested a solution. He said, "Would it not be better if we ask him to take a vow?"
Mother said, "Yes! I won't object to it then."
The Sadhu said to Mohandas, "Make three promises to your mother and vow to keep them. Then you will be allowed to go."
"The first would be not to drink alcohol. Secondly, you promise not to touch non-vegetarian food. The last promise would be that you would treat all other women as your mother or sister. Are you willing to take the vows?"
"Yes, I would be glad to do that!"
"Mother, I bow at your feet and promise that I won't eat flesh, won't drink alcohol and look upon other women as my mother or sister!"
Gandhiji considered these vows of utmost importance in his life. A vow is a symbol of a person's self-confidence and only it can save a person in case of weakness.
He had this belief right from his childhood.