Thursday, November 5, 2015

Great India - 2

Great India - 2

Mahadev Desai, an Anavil Brahmin from Saras village of Surat district (Gujarat), was the Personal Secretary of Mahatma Gandhi from 13 November 1917 to 15 August 1942, till his death. He maintained a diary for all those days, chronicling his life with Gandhi. To live with Gandhi was never an easy task. Yet he became indispensable to Gandhi.

Gandhi was on visit to Puri (Orissa) in 1934. Kasturba, Durgabehn (wife of Mahadevbhai) and Mahadevbhai went to the famous temple of Lord Jagnnath of Puri, without the knowledge of Gandhiji. Mahadevbhai knew the anger of Gandhiji, therefore didn't go inside and sat on the steps of the temple. Kasturba and Durgabehn had darshana and puja of Lord Jagnnath. When Gandhi came to know, he fired them all. He sternly rebuked Mahadevbhai, that he could have at least convinced Durgabehn, that the temple which believed in segregation was not a worthy place for Darshan. Mahadev could have defended himself but he chose not to. Next day, at prayer time, Mahadev went to Gandhi, wept remorsefully and in a note addressed to him, offered to resign. Gandhi wrote back and hold him, it is better to die at the hands of a devotee…so there is no reason for you to go. Mahadev continued. Gandhiji sat on Dharana at Singh Dwar to mark his protest against the rule of the temple, not allowing the Harijans to enter.

The temple committee didn't allow Mrs Indira Gandhi (because of her marriage with a Parasi) to enter into the temple during her last visit in 1984, a day prior to her assassination. In past Saint Kabir and Guru Nanak were not allowed to enter into the temple but later permitted through the message of God to the pujari in dream.

After Quit India call by Gandhiji on 8/8/1942, he was arrested on 9/8/1942 and was sent to Agakhan Palace Jail, Pune. Mahadev Desai, Kasturba, Sarojini Naidu, Dr Sushila Nayar joined with him. 

Viceroy decision to join India in WW-II without the consent of the local provincial Government created a tug of war between Congress/Gandhi and the Viceroy Linlithgow. British were going closer to Jinnah and away from Congress/Gandhi. Gandhi started thinking to go on fast unto death. British, this time decided to counter Congress moves using Muslim League and Jinnah. 

Mahadevbhai knew that if Gandhi goes on fast, British may leave him to die. This was the worry of Mahadevbhai. He can't imagine death of Gandhiji. He couldn't sleep that week properly. He used to wake up at 1-2 AM and feeling uneasiness on bed for 2-3 hours that week. 

On 15th August 1942 morning, he woke up late and missed the morning prayer. When he was shaving in front of a mirror, Sarojini laughed at him. He was cheerful that morning but suddenly Sarojini started calling Dr Sushila Nayar to attend Mahadev.  Dr. Sushila Nayar tried some treatment but failed. Gandhi also came rushing and holding his hand and looking at his eyes shouted loudly, Mahadev utho (wake up), Mahadev..... Mahadevbhai  died of sudden cardiac arrest.

After some days, when Dr. Sushila Nayar asked Gandhiji, a person like you, completely detached, and knowing well that Mahadevbhai was no more, why did he call him, Mahadev utho? 

I was confident that if Mahadev looked at me at least for once, he would have woke up and stood up. He has never disobeyed my commands. If my words reached to his ears, he would have stood up fighting against the death, Gandhiji replied. 

Gandhiji performed holy bath to the dead body and used the same towel for drying himself after a bath. Mahadevbhai's body was cremated in Agakhan Palace itself. Gandhi used to go to the place and used the ash for tilak everyday. Gandhi didn't cry that day, but after 6 months, when Durgabehn (wife of Mahadevbhai) came to the jail and touched his feet, he broke down. He uttered "Mahadev", though he was on fasting and in silence. Gandhi's light, Mahadevbhai has gone out of his life. It was an irreparable loss.

Salute to the Great freedom fighters of our Great India.

Jai Hind.

5 November 2015


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