Mohandas was not even fourteen when his parents married him to a girl from Porbandar, named Kasturbai. For the time being, Mohandas was very happy, for he knew that he would get nice new clothes to wear and a new companion to play with. But when he grew up, he always condemned child-marriage and fought against this evil practice.
The Dominating Husband
Soon after his marriage Mohandas started ill-treating his, gentle, little wife. He would check her movements and even choose her friends for her. Kasturbai was weary of these little tyrannies, and the more Mohandas tried to control her, the more she resisted them. Very often they quarreled and would not talk to each other."
"But why did Mohandas behave in this manner, mother?"
"Well, perhaps he thought that these quarrels and differences were necessary in love.
Although married, Mohandas did not stop going to school. In fact, he was considered to be one of the brightest boys in the class when he reached the upper standards. He always wished that everyone should think of him as an honest and truthful boy. And if ever, by mistake, someone thought that he was telling a lie, he felt hurt and cried for hours. He was also keen on bringing to the path of virtue those of his companions who were given to bad ways; and that was why he made friends with a boy who was very much older than he and very wicked. His wife as well as well as his parents tried their best to stop this friendship, but Mohandas paid no heed to their words. By the way, Hari, there was one thing about Mohandas which I forgot to tell you. He was a very very timid boy, and would not enter a dark room. His friend knew this and he also knew that Mohandas was anxious that he should become strong and brave. So one day, he said to him, 'Look, Mohan, there is only one way of becoming strong and that is by eating meat. See how strong and well-built the English are. Just because they eat meat they are able to rule over us Indians, who are so weak and sickly.' Mohandas, in his innocence, believed this and he agreed to start taking meat.
You know, Hari, it is forbidden by religion to eat meat. So meat was never bought or cooked in Mohandas's house. How could he then eat meat ? His friend invited Mohandas to dinner at his place.
Then, he said, he would be able to take meat without his parents knowing any thing about it.
On the appointed day, Mohandas reached his friend's house and sat down to dinner along with others. He tried very hard to swallow the meat, but he just couldn't do it. The poor boy got sick and left his friend's house. He returned home, but all night long he had a most restless and miserable time. It seemed to him as though a goat was bleating inside his stomach. Afterwards he tried to take meat several times, but he never liked it. He would return home quite late after he began eating meat and each time he would have to make some excuse or other to his people. But one day it occurred to him that if he had to cover up his meat-eating with lies, it was not worthwhile trying to become strong at such a price. And so he decided never again to touch meat, even if he had to remain physically weak. It was no use deceiving one's parents in order to become strong."
"But then how did he come to be so brave and fearless?" asked Hari with some surprise.
"Well, Mohandas had given up telling lies; but he longed to get strong and to cast off all fear. There was an old servant in the house, named Rambha. She knew how afraid Mohan was of the dark. One day she casually said to him that if he should ever feel afraid in the dark, or should find 'himself in trouble, he should start praying and repeating the sacred name of Rama.14 She assured him that would drive all his fear."
And did he really get rid of his fear by praying to Rama, mother ?"
"Yes, my child, there is great virtue in prayer, and God always comes to the rescue of those who call on Him in their hour of need."
"Why, then, I think I should also take to reciting Ramanama15, for I too am afraid of going in the dark."