Thursday, September 1, 2022

Adornment of the face of Gandhiji

 Adornment of the face of Gandhiji 

Have you seen Gandhiji’s photo with a smiling face and marked the gap in the lower central incisors that became an adornment of his face. He received that gift from a friend as a return of his truthfulness. 

It was 1906 in South Africa when Gandhiji was 37 years old, an ordinance was issued by the Transvaal Government requiring all Indians-men, women, and all children to register themselves and obtain a personal certificate bearing name and thumb impression. This card was to be carried by all individuals at all times and must be shown on demand. Anyone failing to produce the certificate was liable to be fined, imprisoned, or deported. The police even had orders to enter private houses and check certificates. 

Gandhiji called it a ‘Black Act’, launched non violent Satyagraha and went to jail. However, they reached a compromise that if Indian would register of their own accord Smuts agreed to get the act repeated. Gandhiji called a meeting in Johannesburg and appealed for voluntary registration.  All agreed but Mir Alam who was a Pathan making and selling mattresses who became a friend of Gandhiji took part in Satyagraha of Gandhiji didn’t agree with this compromise and shouted at Gandhiji : “It was you who told us that finger-prints were required only from criminals. It was you who said must disobey the "Black Act". How does all that fit into your attitude today?”

On a scheduled day, when Gandhiji with his fellow Satyagrahis set out for the registration office, he was attacked with a heavy stick by Mir Alam and his men. Gandhi fell down unconscious. Mir Alam and his associates went on beating him until he was rescued by some friends. He lost his two lower incisors in that assault.  

When he gained consciousness the first sentence he uttered where is Mir Alam? 'Do not blame Mir Alam, for he did not understand.' 

Pathan was arrested and though Gandhiji wrote to the police authority  to release him without any action but the Britishers objected and sentenced him to six months custody.

As agreed upon Gandhiji got himself registered but General Smuts did not repeal the 'Black Act'. Gandhiji continued his agitation and gave a call in which a big bonfire was lit and more than two thousand certificates were burnt. A delegation made of Gandhiji and Seth Haji Habib went to England to represent but they returned entry handed. The mission failed. At this junction of life, Gandhi made a big decision, gave up his practice as a lawyer. He felt he could not go on earning his living by law when he was defying it.

Gandhiji lost his front two teeth (lower incisors) and the gap became an adornment to his face presenting his credentials to his truthfulness without hatred. 


1 August 2022


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