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01. Birth and Parentage
Gandhiji's birthplace at Porbunder My father, Karamchand Gandhi, was Prime Minister in Porbandar. He was a lover of his clan, truthful, brave and generous, but short-tempered.
He never had any ambition to accumulate riches and left us very little property.
He had no education. At best, he might be said to have read up to the fifth Gujarati standard. Of history and geography he was innocent. But his richexperience of practical affairs stood him in good stead in the solution of the most intricate questions and in managinghundreds of men. Of religious training he had very little, but he had that kind of religious culture which frequent visits to temples and listening to religious discourses make available to many Hindus.
The outstanding impression my mother has left on my memory is that of saintliness. She was deeply religious. She would not think of taking her meals without her daily prayers. Going to Haveli – the Vaishnava temple – was one of her daily duties. As far as my memory can go back, I do not remember her having ever missed the Chaturmas. She would take the hardest vows and keep them whatever happened. Illness was no excuse for relaxing them. I can recall her once falling ill when she was observing the Chandrayana vow, but the illness was not allowed to come in the way of the observance. To keep two or three fasts one after another was nothing to her. Living on one meal a day during Chaturmas was a habit with her. Not content with that she fasted every other day during one Chaturmas. During another Chaturmas she vowed not to have food without seeing the sun. We children on those days would stand, staring at the sky, waiting to announce the appearance of the sun to our mother. Everyone knows that at the height of the rainy season the sun often does not show his face. And I remember days when, at his sudden appear- ance, we would rush and announce it to her. She would run out to see with her own eyes, but by that time the sun would be gone, thus depriving her of her meal. “That does not matter,” she would say cheerfully, “God did not want me to eat today.” And then she would return to her round of duties.
My mother had strong common sense. She was well informed about all matters of State.
Of these parents I was born at Porbandar, otherwise known as Sudamapuri, on the 2nd October 1869.