Mahatma Gandhi’s darshan
One year, Gandhiji came to our Ashram ground for a whole week, every morning for prayers. He was accompanied by a group of reputed leaders. I was very young at that time. There was no one in that ‘Ashram’ who could explain to us the meaning of ‘Satyagraha’ and non-cooperation movement. I knew nothing about the Congress and its objectives. My mind was then immature. Still, if those in charge of the ‘Ashram’ or the teachers at school had explained those things in simple language, I could have acquired at least some idea about them. But they were utterly indifferent. As a result, we remained deprived of a great benefit.
What has been inculcated in childhood sticks to us and stays with us all through life. Those who were in charge of the Ashram were well aware of it. Still they gave us no information at all about the situation in the country. They hardly found time even to sit and talk to us. Hence we could not know about other things that would lead to the betterment of life. However, much though we were living in the dark, we had at least come to know that Gandhiji was a truly great man and he was working for the good of the country. He longed to put an end to the British rule in India. He went to jail for that purpose if it was found necessary and underwent many hardships. He was a man of purity. I started having respect for Gandhiji after learning those things about him. I was convinced that he was doing really good work. When I thought about him, I too had a desire to be a great man and work for others.
The literary-minded senior students in the Ashram had started bringing out a hand-written monthly magazine. Shri Shankarlal Choksi was the editor. He was a very genuine student with many virtues. I too felt inspired to write something after seeing that monthly magazine. One day I picked up the courage and wrote a small article about village school master. Shankarlal was very pleased to read it. He encouraged me and praised me before other students. That appreciation of my small article further encouraged me. Had the article been harshly criticized or ignored, my enthusiasm to become a writer would have vanished forever. The praise of the article was like an inspiration that nurtured my heart’s desire. After that I wrote a couple of more articles and also composed one or two songs. Gradually, I became a subject of discussion among the students.
Later, when I was about fourteen, we started bringing out independently a bi-monthly called ‘Chetan’. The students of the eight (English fourth) standard, and particularly my student friend Narayan Jani had helped me in that venture. It was thus that I made a modest beginning in literary writing, which gradually picked up and continues till today. The proof lies in the fact that what began as a small article about the village school master has now reached the stage of the writing of this autobiography.