Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gurjar Sabha, January 14, 1915 from Riaz Ahmed

 Note: Riaz Ahmed sets the date of the event as January 13.   Jaswant Singh also sets it to January 13.

The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi gives the date as January 14.  The chronology given there is as follows:
January 9: Gandhiji and Kasturba landed at Apollo Bunder, Bombay.
In interview to The Bombay Chronicle and The Times of India, Gandhiji said he would follow Gokhale’s advice and pass some time in India observing and studying.
January 11: Reception at Ghatkopar, Bombay.
January 12: Public reception at Mount Petit, Bombay, Sir
Pherozeshah Mehta presiding.
January 13: Welcome by Bombay National Union at Hirabag. B. G. Tilak and Joseph Baptista attended.
January 14: Gandhiji entertained by Bombay branch of Servants of India Society.
Met Governor of Bombay.
Garden party by Gurjar Sabha, Bombay, M. A. Jinnah presided.
The online Chronology of Gandhi in Bombay also gives the date as January 14. (reproduced at the end of this document).

The Works of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah
Volume II (1913-1916)
Editor: Dr. Riaz Ahmad

13 January 1915 (Bombay Chronicle, 15 January 1915)

Mr. M.K. Gandhi and Mrs. Gandhi were entertained at a garden party, yesterday evening (13-1-1915), in the specious [sic] gardens of Mangaldass House by the members of the Gujar Sabha.  There was a very large and representative gathering and those present included the Hon. Mr. P.D. Pattni.

Mr. K.M. Munshi, in opening the proceedings, said the movement was first started by a single body as a public expression of the feelings of reverence to the admiration for the greatest son of modern Gujarat, but it was gratifying to see that it was whole-heartedly supported by the whole of the Gujerati-speaking community.

Mr. M. A. Jinnah who presided, welcoming the guests of the evening on behalf of the Sabha, said that he considered a great privilege and certainly a very great honour that he should have the opportunity of welcoming Mr. and Mrs. Gandhi back to their motherland after the most strenuous and hard labour in South Africa in the cause of the Indians residing there as well as in the cause of India generally.  Mr. Gandhi came back to India after a quarter of a century.  From the very start he had devoted himself to the cause of the Indian community in South Africa and the question of immigration in South Africa.   This question was long one and had a long history but recently, as they were all aware, it had assumed a shape and issue which threatened to destroy the very existence of Indians in South Africa and it was then that Mr. Gandhi led the South African Indian community so to say in a constitutional war and they all knew what trials, what troubles, what sufferings and what sacrifices he had to go through and they all knew that eventually that immediate issue, which threatened the very existence of the Indian community in South Africa, was brought about in a compromise, which seemed to all parties satisfactory, but if he might say so as one who had taken some interest in the question – and he believed he was voicing the feelings of every Indian on that point – the question as settled did not end the other issues of a graver and more important character and those would have to be settled as soon as possible (hear, hear).

Continuing, Mr. Jinnah said that he was sure that they were all very glad to see Mr. Gandhi back among them, but while he (the speaker) was thinking about it and reading in the press as to the future programme of Mr. Gandhi, namely, to devote himself to the cause of the country, it struck him that what a pity it was that there was nobody in South Africa who could take his place, and fight their battle, a bigger battle than the one fought and successfully fought, and therefore it seemed to him that what was their gain was a terrible loss of South Africa so far as the Indians there were concerned.   Of course, Mr. Gandhi know of his movements best and he knew how he should work them.   Personally, he (the speaker) felt that it did not matter where Mr. Gandhi was.  Undoubtedly here he would not only become a worthy ornament, but also a very real worker whose equals there were very few (applause).

He felt sure that he was uttering the sentiments of everyone when he said that Mr. Gandhi deserved the welcome not only of the Gurjar Sabha, not only of Gujerat but of the whole of India.   But while he was praising Mr. Gandhi he did not forget Mrs. Gandhi, who had set an example not only to the womankind of India, but he might say to the womankind of the whole world.   For a woman to stand by her husband, share his trials and sufferings and sacrifices and even to go to jail was model of  womanhood of which any country could well be proud of (applause).

He did not think he was exaggerating when he said that such a son of India and such a daughter of India had not only raised the reputation of India but had vindicated the honour of the great and ancient land.  They had drawn the attention of the whole world and the whole world admired the trials and troubles and sacrifices Mr. and Mrs. Gandhi underwent for the cause of their country and their countrymen (applause).


Continuing Mr. Jinnah said that he had only one word to add.  After the great war that is going on and which has to decide the issue between might and right – and he had no doubt that right will succeed (hear, hear) – questions affecting India will have to be considered and solved and the one word that he might say to Mr. Gandhi was that throughout the whole country, the two sister communities of India – Hindus and Mahomedans – showed themselves unanimous, absolutely one, on the South African question, and he thought that that was the first question and the first occasion on which the two sister communities stood together in absolute union and it had its moral and political effect of the settlement of the question.

That it had its gain was being displaying with by the attitude of India towards the war and the whole of India had stood by the Empire, as one of its members.  It was in that frame of mind, that state, that condition which they had to bring about between the two communities, when most of their problems, he had no doubt, would be easily be solved.

That, he said to Mr, Gandhi, was one problem of all the problems of India – namely, how to bring about unanimity and co-operation between the two communities so that the demands of India may be made absolutely unanimously.  He again welcomed them in the name of the Gurjar Sabha, who took the greatest pride in receiving them that evening. (Applause)

Both the guests were then garlanded.

Mr. Gandhi, who spoke in Gujerati, thanked Mr. Jinnah for presiding at this function and said that while he was in South Africa and anything was said about Gujeratis, it was understood to have a reference to the Hindu community only and Parsis and Mahomedans were not thought of.   He was, therefore, glad to find a Mahomedan a member of the Gurjar Sabha and the chairman of that function.

With regard to their words of praise and welcome, he was at a loss to say anything. As he had said so often before, he and his wife had done nothing beyond their duty.  He did not wish to repeat the same thing but he desired to say that he considered all these good feelings and kind words as their blessings and he prayed to God that those blessings might enable him and his wife in faithfully serving their country.

They first intended to study all the Indian questions and then enter upon the service of the country.  He had looked upon the Hon. Mr. Gokhale as his guide and leader and he had full confidence in him and he was sure that Mr. Gokhale would not put him on the wrong track.   He had visited his Excellency the Governor that morning and while thanking him for the honour he also mentioned the same thing that he was absolutely confident that under the guiding spirit of the Hon. Mr. Gokhale he would be adopting the right course.

Continuing, Mr. Gandhi said that the chairman had referred to the South African question.   He had a good deal to say on the subject and he would explain the whole situation in the very near future to the Bombay public and through them the whole of India.  The compromise was satisfactory and he trusted that what had remained to be gained would be gained.   The South Africans had now learnt that they could not utterly disregard the Indians or disrespect their feelings.

With regard to the Hindu-Mahomedan question he had much to learn, but he would always keep before his eyes his twenty-one years of experience in South Africa and he still remembered that one sentence uttered by Sir Syed Ahmed, namely, that the Hindus and Mahomedans were the two eyes of mother India, and if one looked at one end and the other at the other, neither would be able to see anything, and that if one was gone, the other would see to that extent only.   Both the communities had to bear this in mind in the future.

In conclusion, he [Gandhi] thanked them for the great honour done to him and his wife.

Refreshments were then served and the gathering dispersed after about an hour.



January 9 - 15
9th Jan          

Gandhi arrived at 7.30 am by SS Arabia from South Africa via London.
Reception at several places.
Put up at Revashanker Jhaveri's (Santacruz).
Interviewed by Times of India.
Met G. K. Gokhale & V. S. Sastri at Narottam Morarji's house. details.....
10th Jan
Met relatives in Bazaar Gate street, it was here that Swami Anand first met Gandhi.
Reception by Mulji Ashram (theatre) 'Buddha Deva' was being staged by his troupe.
Addressed by National Union (Hira Baug) which was presided by B. G. Tilak.

11th Jan
Meeting at Ghatkopar. Received Golden manacles as a gift.

12th Jan
Met Dadabhai Navroji and Dr. Dadi Burjorji. (Dr. Burjorji had attended Gandhi in Durban, South Africa wshen he was attacked by whites.)

Attended party full of pomp and grandeur, hosted by the Petits. details.....

 13th Jan       

Reception given by National Union (Madhav Baug). Tilak was also present.

14th Jan
Saw Lord Willingdon, the Governor.

Reception given by Gurjar Sabha (Gujarat Association). M. A. Jinnah, in his welcome speech praised Gandhi & Ba of their services in South Africa. details.....

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